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Shadow Environment Secretary unhappy about state of nature

Last modified: 22 August 2013

Kittiwake on nest, Dunbar, Scotland

Bempton Cliffs is home to the largest mainland kittiwake breeding site in the UK.

Image: Andy Hay

The Government is not doing enough to stop the loss of UK wildlife. This is the conclusion of MP Mary Creagh, following a meeting with the RSPB at the charity’s Bempton Cliffs reserve.

Mary Creagh, who is MP for Wakefield and also Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs, visited the seabird colony near Bridlington to discuss the State of Nature report.

Published by a coalition of leading conservation and research organisations, this groundbreaking report revealed that six out of ten species of plants and animals have declined in the UK over the past 50 years.

Creagh was given a tour of Bempton Cliffs by site manager Dr Keith Clarkson who discussed with her some of the report’s findings about the state of marine wildlife of the UK. She heard that although the state of UK fish stocks has improved recently, most are still depleted and, how there is increasing evidence that climate change is affecting breeding seabirds. In recent decades, a number of seabirds have suffered steep declines including Roseate terns, Arctic skuas and kittiwakes.

Bempton Cliffs is home to the largest mainland kittiwake breeding site in the UK. However, over the past 30 years, the number of kittiwakes has halved and over 80,000 birds have disappeared.

The most likely reason for this is that sandeels, their main food source, have declined in the sea around Flamborough and Bempton Cliffs due to increases in surface sea temperatures. In part, the situation has probably also been exacerbated by overfishing.  

Mary Creagh said: “Our native wildlife is facing unprecedented challenges from climate change and habitat loss. I am concerned the Government isn’t doing enough to stop wildlife loss and mitigate the threats to our natural world. Politicians of all parties must work with conservation organisations like the RSPB to preserve the natural environment for future generations to enjoy.”

How you can help

Current proposals to create marine protected areas in the waters of each country offer almost no protection for seabirds. With the support of people like you, we can continue to fight for better protection for our seas.