Tag Archives: Wildlife Trust

Campaigners call for ban on seabird killer

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This pair of guillemots were casualties of pollution by PIB. Pic: RSPB

Three leading wildlife organisations have joined together to call for the ban on the discharge of polyisobutene (PIB), which has killed hundreds of seabirds.

The disaster of hundreds of seabirds dying along England’s southern coast because of marine pollution has prompted the RSPB, the RSPCA and The Wildlife Trust to write to Transport Minister Stephen Hammond, alerting him to the growing threat.

The three charities are urging the minister to take a lead in driving an international reclassification of the man-made substance to prohibit the discharge of PIB at sea. PIB renders seabirds helpless, restricting their mobility and preventing them from feeding as the chemical coats their plumage. There have have been two pollution incidents involving PIB along the South Coast this year, and at least three others around European coasts in recent years.

The chemical is used in the manufacture of a range of products including lubricants to football bladders, chewing gum to cling film, and it is also used to control the thickness of oils.

It can be legal to discharge PIB when ships wash out their tanks at sea, but these permissions are based on tests carried out under laboratory conditions and no consideration is taken of what happens when the chemical meets sea water, beyond whether the substance floats or sinks.

In the sea, however, the polyisobutene transforms into a glue-like, ‘waxy’ formation, coating the feathers of birds, preventing them from diving and finding food.  Alec Taylor, the RSPB’s marine policy officer, said: “This material is a killer which has claimed the lives of thousands of seabirds, causing many to suffer a lingering death.  It cannot be right that it is legal to release it in any quantity into our seas.”

The three wildlife charities are calling on the Minister to write to the International Maritime Organisation to request a review of PIB’s hazard status under the Marpol Convention, which states it is legal to discharge PIB when a vessel’s tanks are flushed at sea. The campaigning group 38 Degrees has also launched an e-action urging the government to take action.

Major seabird recovery project gets green light

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A new 25-year partnership project that aims to protect internationally important seabird populations on the Isles of Scilly has been given the green light.

The islands are home to breeding populations of 14 species and about 20,000 birds, including storm petrels, Manx shearwaters and puffins. The local seabird population has declined by almost 25% in the past 30 years, mainly because eggs and chicks have been preyed upon by rats.

Up until now, rodent control work has been confined to Scilly’s uninhabited islands and has left them rat-free, although work is regularly required to maintain this status. The  project, which involves the RSPB, Natural England and the Duchy of Cornwall together with the islands’ Area of Outstanding  Natural Beauty partnership, Wildlife Trust and Bird Group, aims to make two of Scilly’s inhabited islands rat-free over the next 25 years.

Most of the scheme’s £900,000 financial backing is coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and, because of Scilly’s Special Protected Area status, from the European Union’s LIFE budget too.

Paul St Pierre, RSPB Conservation Officer, said: “As well as seeking to bolster the population of seabirds, we want  to involve more people in the celebration, enjoyment and protection of the islands’ seabird heritage. We want  to help these islands make more of their seabird heritage and to strengthen  its image as a seabird-friendly destination for an ever wider audience.”