Monday, May 29, 2023

Operation Seabird aims to highlight the need to look out for coastal wildlife

This year’s Operation Seabird has taken place at Saltfleet – just down the coast from Cleethorpes and Tetney – and Barton’s Far Ings nature reserve to raise awareness of our spectacular wildlife.

The Humber Nature Partnership supported the day of action, as the coastline prepares for the Easter break.

Police patrols looked for disturbance and antisocial behaviour – offering advice to visitors about how they can minimise their impact on our coastal wildlife along the Humber Estuary European Marine Site.

Regarded as one of the most important estuaries in Europe for its wildlife and habitats, the Humber Estuary European Marine Site covers the entire Humber Estuary and spans the North Sea from the Spurn Peninsula to north Mablethorpe.

During the spring and summer, the reedbeds and shingle on the beaches support elusive and sometimes rare species such as Bittern, Marsh Harrier and Little Tern during their breeding season.

Over the autumn and winter months, the land and skies around the Humber Estuary fill with migrating birds such as Pink-Footed Geese, with the rich and fertile habitat providing a welcome food source after their long journey from Scandinavia, Iceland and beyond.

Chief Inspector Derek Hussain who is the lead for Rural Crime in Humberside Police said: “Our dedicated Rural Task Force has to deal with a number of reports each year of members of the public on the water, approaching too closely to the wildlife that lives in the area. This includes nesting seabirds and marine mammals.

“The key focus of Operation Seabird is to ensure that members of the public using the waters along the Yorkshire coast and Humber Estuary do so in a responsible way. We want to ensure they keep their distance from the wildlife to prevent intentional disturbance and to safeguard this stretch of coastline, allowing future generations to enjoy the spectacle we see today.”

DC Aaron Flint, Force Wildlife Crime Officer for Lincolnshire Police said: “The Lincolnshire coastline is a very important feature of our amazing county, providing habitat for wildflowers, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals. It also attracts many visitors each year. Unfortunately, each year we receive a large number of reports relating to members of the public disturbing wildlife such as nesting birds or resting seals, damaging the features of our SSSI’s either on foot, using motor bikes/ off road vehicles or airborne vehicles such as paramotors.

“The focus of Operation Seabird is to protect our important coastline whilst also allowing members of the public enjoy it responsibly, this is done mainly through educating the public regarding the need to keep their distance from wildlife to prevent disturbance, stay on footpaths and public areas and not to drive motor vehicles on the sites to prevent destruction of SSSI features. It’s important to note that although education is the main focus of the operation enforcement action and prosecutions will be taken where necessary.”

Jackson Sage, Project Manager for the Humber Management Scheme at Humber Nature Partnership said: “The Humber Estuary is home to up to 140,000 breeding and migratory birds, marine mammals such as seals and Harbour Porpoise, all supported by tens of thousands of hectares of delicate habitats protected under UK law. We want people to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and wildlife we have on our doorstep, but do so in a way that does not come at the expense of the important species and habitats that we are so lucky to have.”

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