• What are Marine Protected Areas really worth?

    Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel - our very first Marine Conservation Zone

    Something as simple as choosing a packet of coffee in a supermarket can be a fraught decision as you consciously consider cost, origin, flavour and subconsciously the packaging or association with a particular brand and lifestyle. To help politicians weigh up the pros and cons, big political decisions require a formal analysis that describes…

    • 18 Jun 2015
  • Effective marine planning, supporting a healthy environment

    On Friday, I had the pleasure of organising a workshop and boat trip between the RSPB, other NGOs, Natural England and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), based around the links between emerging marine plans and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). 

    The MSFD has a legal obligation for the Government to make sure our seas are healthy and under minimal pressure from human activity. And marine plans are…

    • 2 Jun 2015
  • RSPB respond to MCZ Tranche 2 - 'OK, but needs to do much better'

    We’ve just handed in our response to Government on another 23 potential Marine Conservation Zones around England’s coasts. Along with many other responses from other interested parties, these will go into the machine and in a few months we hope that a decision to designate all 23 will emerge.

    What did we think? Well, it’s the old school report cliché – ‘OK, but needs to do much better’. The coverage of…

    • 27 Apr 2015
  • Measure for Measure

    Today, two important consultations for marine conservation close in the UK. Firstly, there is the consultation on the proposed second tranche of English Marine Conservation Zones (all 23 of them), which fills in some of the biggest gaps in the network. We’ll have a separate blog about this in due course.

    My last couple of weeks have been busy finalising our response to the current consultation on the Marine Strategy…

    • 24 Apr 2015
  • 23 potential Marine Conservation Zones around England need a helping hand to see them home

    Almost a year ago Defra published a list of 37 potential Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) that were in the running for possible designation in 2015. I talked about them here as being ‘the gap fillers’; the sites that would help to ensure we had a more comprehensive network of sites protecting our marine wildlife. We knew that they weren’t all going to go forward but the final list of 23 announced today is a disappointment…

    • 30 Jan 2015
  • The Beached Bird Survey 2015 - get involved

    My colleagues in Northern Ireland this week made a call for the public to be aware of and report any beached seabirds - every bit of information is valuable to better understand the impacts on our breeding and non-breeding populations. Winter is traditionally the season when birds are washed up either by pollution incidents or simply through natural mortality, for example as the result of stormy weather. 

    Today, I'm pleased…

    • 11 Dec 2014
  • Seabirds South West - little terns, Scilly seabirds and more...

    Hi all,

    Here’s the latest edition of 'Seabirds South West', with news on Chesil Beach’s little tern colony, thoughts on the protection of wintering birds along the south Cornwall coast and the latest on the Scilly seabird project. Definitely worth sharing more widely than just the region, to showcase the great work going on.

    You can download it by just clicking on the link below. Have a look!


    • 3 Dec 2014
  • 156 Parliamentarians call for the swift completion of our Marine Protected Area network

    156 Parliamentarians, two Parliamentary Committees and 350,000 members of the public are now calling on Government to get on and complete our network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

    Today I am in Westminster for the launch of a Charter which has been signed by 133 MPs and 23 Peers. It calls on Government for ‘the swift designation of a representative and well managed Ecologically Coherent Network of Marine Protected…

    • 19 Nov 2014
  • Maritime Spatial Planning – healthy ecosystems mean healthy economies

    Hi everyone,

    Last week the European Union officially published it new Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning, requiring all Member States with marine and coastal waters to create plans to set out how their waters should be used. the RSPB was heavily involved behind the scenes, together with our partners in BirdLife Europe, in trying to secure the best outcome for the environment in what was a challenging piece of legislation…

    • 5 Sep 2014
  • A Herculean feat to highlight the need for protection in our seas

    Through August, Lewis Pugh is doing long distance swims in the Seven Seas of ancient maritime folklore - The Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean, Black, Arabian and North. His mission is to highlight the need for Marine Protected Areas across the globe.

     Lewis Pugh is most famous for having swum in the Arctic in 2007 to highlight the loss of Arctic sea ice as a result of climate change. The water temperature was minus 1…

    • 28 Aug 2014
  • The RSPB at Filey Bay– building a local presence

    I'm really pleased to bring you a guest post by Vicky Brown, who has been based at Filey Bay in Yorkshire this summer for the RSPB, getting to know and working with the local netsmen. Vicky shares some of her experiences so far.

    Filey Bay is a small quaint fishing town off the East Coast of Yorkshire. The Bay is home to seven licensed gillnet fishermen, who fish for sea trout and salmon between May and August. Fishing…

    • 26 Aug 2014
  • Environment Audit Committee Report on England's MPA network

    The Environmental Audit Committee have just produced their report on Marine Protected Areas. The role of this Committee is to challenge Government’s progress across a number of environmental areas, and this report follows hot on the heels of a similar enquiry by the Science and Technology Committee in 2013.

    In essence, the report is telling Government to just get on with the job of putting in place Marine Conservation…

    • 27 Jun 2014
  • A long life after pollution: two guillemots' stories.

    Guest post by Jean Bradford MBE.  Since 1983, Jean has run the South Devon Seabird Trust which specialises in the rescue, treatment and rehabilitation of oiled seabirds, particularly guillemots. Over the years there has been much comment on the survival rates of birds released into the wild following rehabilitation. As Jean writes below in a recent email to RSPB and others, with proper care, and if nurtured back to a healthy…

    • 8 May 2014
  • First English Marine Plans arrive

    I wonder if Bempton Cliff’s seabirds arriving for this year’s breeding season will notice anything different?

    The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) today releases the final marine plans for the East of England inshore and offshore areas, a total area of almost 60,000km2. This is a huge area, which extends out into the North Sea to our borders with neighbouring countries, but also includes the coastline…

    • 2 Apr 2014
  • Tranche 2 Marine Conservation Zones: ‘The Gap fillers’

    37 potential MCZs for English waters are being put forward by Defra. They are keen to use the next nine months (before the formal consultation starts) to build up a dossier on the ecology and socio-economics of each site. I suspect that this pre-consultation phase is also about a managing our expectations and we should not expect that all of these 37 will make the final cut.

    These 37 sites have been designed to fill…

    • 25 Feb 2014
  • Trouble in Paradise

    Guest post by Matt Brierley, a wildlife filmmaker writing about his experience of creating Trouble in Paradise, the story of the Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project.

    I don't know when you last had your life governed by lunar activity. (I’m presupposing there are no werewolves reading this). For me, however, Spring 2013 was largely determined by the moon.

    I needed to film a tidal phenomenon. On a very…

    • 27 Nov 2013
  • What’s the value of the marine environment?

    What’s the value of the marine environment?

    Putting a value on something that you can’t directly buy is always going to be tricky. What if i asked you to value your favourite view? Would the retail price of a framed picture to hang on your wall be about the right price? Probably not. The personal value is more likely to be much higher and linked to your memories of the place and how you felt when you visited it…

    • 6 Nov 2013
  • The NEOLI Factor

    I have been at the 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress in Marseilles where there has been a lot of excitement over the recent developments in very large MPAs around the world. Having the largest MPA in your jurisdiction has become one of the more enlightened international games of one-upmanship.

    The UK is exploring following up the 564,000 km2 Chagos MPA with another one of its overseas territories, Pitcairn…

    • 31 Oct 2013
  • MEPs choose more fish over more boats

    By Euan Dunn, Principal Marine Advisor

    Strasbourg, Wed 23 October

    Today in Strasbourg the European Parliament gave a massive boost to the future of Europe’s fisheries by voting against using taxpayers’ money to build new fishing vessels.  The vote was carried by a substantial majority of 373:301.   UK MEPs across the political spectrum were against constructing new vessels.

    In so doing, MEPs overturned…

    • 23 Oct 2013
  • A fabulous win for wildlife

    By Alec Taylor, Marine Policy Officer

    Courtesy of Ian McCarthy - traumatic scenes like this are less likely following yesterday's great news

    When you work in marine conservation, often it seems that everything is working against you, when one step forward is followed by two steps back. So yesterday was a small day to savour. Yesterday I was back at the the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), as I was…

    • 22 Oct 2013
  • A winning picture

    BirdLife South Africa run an annual Oceans of Life photography competition, and the 2013 results are out!  This year there are several species (or close relatives) that we'd recognise on our own shores - including gannets, puffins and kittiwakes.

    I can't copy the images here directly, but I urge you to check out the Guardian to see them - they are truly wonderful.

    • 8 Oct 2013
  • In case you missed it

    Check out this fabulous blog post from our South Highlands Conservation Manager, Stuart Benn.

    • 3 Sep 2013
  • Big Beachwatch Weekend

    If you are lucky enough to live near our fabulous coast, and have a few hours spare to help protect it, why not take part in the Marine Conservation Society's Big Beachwatch Weekend (20-23 September)?

    Now in its 19th year, Big Beachwatch Weekend is the MCS's annual beach clean and survey used for their annual report.  Thousands of volunteers help monitor and remove wildlife-killing litter from our beaches.  Take…

    • 2 Sep 2013
  • Ramsey Island - more than just birds

    Last Saturday (24th August) we visited the RSPB Ramsey Island reserve with the children and staff from the Rhydyfelin section of the charity Valleys Kids.

    The weather held out and despite some windy conditions early on we made the boat trip across to the Island .

    Apart from giving everyone a great day out the aim was to raise awareness of the importance of the marine environment from an environmental, educational…

    • 29 Aug 2013
  • PIB - MCA investigation closes without success

    By Alec Taylor, Marine Policy Officer

    The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have announced that they have not been able to trace the ship, or ships, which released a form of polyisobutylene (or PIB) into the English Channel earlier this year, causing the deaths of more than 4000 seabirds, and that no one is likely to be prosecuted for these acts.

    This news is hugely disappointing and frustrating. Not just for us…

    • 21 Aug 2013