Support for a new UK breeding seabird census

Many of our famous and globally important seabird populations are undergoing declines. To gain a better understanding of how populations are changing, a complete count of our breeding seabirds is urgently required.

Puffin Fratercula arctica, group, Isle of May National Nature reserve


More than seven million seabirds breed across the UK each year and some species have more than half of their global populations in Britain and Ireland. Unfortunately, today many of our famous seabird populations are in decline. To gain an understanding of how seabird populations are changing, period censuses of all breeding seabirds in Britain and Ireland have been historically carried out - Operation seafarer (1969-70); the Seabird Colony Register (1985-88) and Seabird 2000 (1998-2002).

With many changes happening in the marine environment, there is now a pressing need to census our breeding seabirds again. The RSPB is working with many other partners to build nationwide support for seabirds through the next national census and to help people to learn about, become inspired by and to become involved with the monitoring of some of our most charismatic birds.


  • Work with partner organisations to gain support for the next national seabird census
  • Have an up to date assessment of the conservation status of the UK's seabirds, their distribution and numbers which are directly comparable with previous censuses.
  • Design new and improved monitoring techniques
  • Increase awareness and knowledge of seabird monitoring amongst the general public
  • Increase skills and numbers of volunteers taking part in the Seabird Monitoring Programme


We will update this section as and when we can

Planned Work

We are at the very early stages of the project. We are hoping to have up-to-date population estimates of the UK’s breeding seabirds by 2019.



Please return for updates


Coast on a stormy day

Dr Mark Bolton

Principal Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science
Tagged with: Country: UK Habitat: Marine and intertidal Project status: Ongoing Project types: Species protection