Gannet Morus bassana, pair preening, Bass Rock

Brexit, fisheries and seabirds

Policy Officer Kat Holmes visits RSPB Bempton Cliffs, and reflects on what Brexit will mean for the future of our fisheries and seabirds.

Challenges to come

"I was lucky enough to be at Bempton Cliffs this spring, to see some of the first gannets soaring past the cliffs. I watched gannets land and, in couples, elegantly use their beaks to "fence", a behaviour that reaffirms their bond before the breeding season begins.

Watching this spectacle on land it is hard to appreciate the challenges these seabirds and this seasons' chicks will face out at sea, and the long coexistence they have led with the fishing industry in UK waters.

The future of seabirds, the fishing industry and thriving coastal communities are all connected by their dependency on a healthy marine environment."

What does it mean?

"It has never been more important to recognise this link than now. Leaving the EU will mean the Common Fisheries Policy, which has governed fisheries in UK waters since the early 1970s, no longer applies – meaning the UK and devolved governments will take full responsibility for UK waters.

But governments won't need to start from scratch and can be proud of the work they have done, backed by public support, to improve fisheries policy within the EU over the last 10 years.

As a result of this effort, the number of stocks overfished has reduced significantly, improving the profitability of our fisheries and availability of prey for seabirds and other marine life."

Shy albatross Diomedea cauta, birds flocking around a small fishing boat, Stewart Island, New Zealand

Greener UK

"To become true global leaders, the UK must build on this success by establishing fisheries policy that has sustainability at its heart. The RSPB is one of the 13 members of the Greener UK coalition; together we are working to secure a brighter future for fisheries and the environment following the UK's exit from the EU."

- Kat Holmes, Policy Officer

How you can help

Black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, adult standing on a potential nest site, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly

Thank you for what you're already doing to help our projects in the UK and abroad - we couldn't do it without you. If you feel you can donate some additional money at this time, it will help us achieve even more.