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Puffins starve as Danes grab UK sand eels

September 8, 2019

By Paul Homewood


h/t Dennis Ambler


Remember how many times we have been told that climate change was wiping out the poor puffins?

The Sunday Times reveals the real story:


Puffins and other seabirds are unable to feed their young after Danish vessels stripped British waters of sand eels worth up to £80m.

The Danes control 94% of the quota for UK sand eels and last year persuaded the EU to let them increase their annual take from 82,000 to 458,000 tons a year.

Most of the catch, taken around Dogger Bank in the North Sea, was crushed into fishmeal for Denmark’s intensive salmon, mink and livestock farms.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds fears that seabirds such as puffins and kittiwakes, which rely on sand eels to feed their young, face a disaster because so few eels remain. The charity has urged Michael Gove, the environment secretary, to use Brexit to “take back control” and end the reign of the Danish trawlers.

“We favour a total ban on fishing of sand eels and other forage fish species like sprat, which seabirds use as an alternative to sand eel in the UK part of the North Sea,” said Euan Dunn, principal marine adviser of the RSPB.

Denmark’s huge share of the sand eel fishery dates from 1983, when the EU approved the “relative stability principle”, under which the share of each species was based on the proportion caught by member countries in the past. It means fish quotas are allocated according to catch records from the 1970s.

British fishermen then had no interest in sand eels, so Denmark got nearly all the quota and still has it now.

There is growing evidence that seabird colonies are being wiped out, especially kittiwakes and puffins. In this century the sand eel stock has collapsed with Denmark allowed only 82,000 tons in 2016. Seabird numbers fell, too, but in 2017 Denmark’s fisheries minister persuaded the EU to allow a 5.5-fold increase in sand eel catches.

Gerry Smart, a fisheries consultant, said: “They know Brexit is coming and they are determined to get as much as they can in case Britain ends the fishery.”

  1. Joe Public permalink
    September 8, 2019 6:08 pm

    Yet the year previously, the Beeb was happy to blame climate change and a decline in water temperature:

    Scientists have blamed climate change for a massive drop in the availability of one of the North Sea’s major sources of food for Scotland’s seabirds.
    The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology said the number of sand eels in their diet fell by 48% between 1985 and 2014.

    The small fish is the meal of choice for many species, including the European shag and the puffin.

    The decline coincides with an increase in the North Sea’s temperature by 0.037 degrees Celsius per year since 1982.

    Is the physiology of sand eels sensitive enough to perceive a temperature change 0.037 degC per year?

    • Mike R permalink
      September 8, 2019 7:09 pm

      I very much doubt it Joe! This is not new of course, concerns about overfishing of sand eel stocks go back decades and it is a well studied subject. John Gummer would have been well briefed on this during his tenure as Environment Minister. No doubt he’ll shortly be writing to the BBC to underline that the sand eel decline is not due to a changing climate!

      • buxtond permalink
        September 8, 2019 9:51 pm

        Oh, no he won’t!!!

    • mjr permalink
      September 9, 2019 7:47 am

      Such a dilemma for the BBC!! As they must appear to be blaming everything on global warming and yet not blaming anything on EEC membership. They will have to blame it on Donald Trump. Almost as funny as the dilemma they had a few months back with the video of a muslim woman berating a homosexual man.

  2. September 8, 2019 6:11 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate-

  3. Shoki Kaneda permalink
    September 8, 2019 6:31 pm

    Anyone need more evidence for why Brexit must succeed?

    • Plowjogger1776 permalink
      September 8, 2019 9:06 pm

      Go for it. We Americans can tell you that independence is a great thing!

  4. Doonhamer permalink
    September 8, 2019 7:25 pm

    They don’t burn them in power stations to generate electricity any more?

  5. MrGrimNasty permalink
    September 8, 2019 7:46 pm

    Disgraceful. Nothing more to say.

  6. MrGrimNasty permalink
    September 8, 2019 8:02 pm

    Oh yes, ship of fools rescued from Arctic. Climate revenge is a dish best served cold, very cold! From GWPF twitter feed.

  7. September 8, 2019 9:30 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  8. roger permalink
    September 8, 2019 10:27 pm

    Prior to the reported use of sandeels as above the Danes not so long ago used sandeels as fuel for electricity generators.
    Not only sea birds but also seatrout and salmon smolts used the sandeel as food and the ravages of the Danes has caused a collapse in adult fish returning to the rivers.
    Denmark is not our friend.
    We need to leave the EU ASAP.

  9. Graeme No.3 permalink
    September 8, 2019 10:31 pm

    I see a chance for Boris – campaign on SAVE THE PUFFIN with Brexit.
    A few photos of starving birds and label the remainers as bird killers.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      September 9, 2019 12:57 pm

      But nobody reads Puffins’ comments…..

  10. Athelstan. permalink
    September 8, 2019 10:47 pm

    “The Danes control 94% of the quota for UK sand eels and last year persuaded the EU to let them increase their annual take from 82,000 to 458,000 tons a year.”

    “last year persuaded the EU to let them increase their annual take”

    in synopsis, need there be anymore said? Mark it, we don’t even own the lowly sand eels in UK waters – the EU does.

    The CPS always an suicidal pact booting UK fisheries up the rear end, indeed an ecological disaster ‘our’ political elite only too readily surrendered to the EU and it, never worked for Britain.

  11. TomO permalink
    September 9, 2019 10:26 am

    A snapshot of the wholly putrid Common Fisheries policy.

  12. September 9, 2019 12:15 pm

    Hmmmm. Maybe we will get Greenland after all.

  13. Nick permalink
    September 10, 2019 10:00 am

    “They know Brexit is coming and they are determined to get as much as they can in case Britain ends the fishery.”
    No surely not? That would suggest that the EU isn’t playing fair over BREXIT and might even be punishing the people of the UK, because 17.4 million of them didn’t know what they were doing.
    Sarcasm is not very satisfying, but it just allows reflection on why we voted leave and why it is being continually proved to be right.

  14. tomo permalink
    September 12, 2019 12:38 pm


    a different aspect of the sand eel fishery….

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