Pressures Affecting Seabirds in the UK

Seabirds in the UK are affected by pressures created by human activities. Below we assess the nature and magnitude of their impacts, based on the latest available evidence. More detail on the pressures is available by following the links in the table. Descriptions of how the pressures are affecting different species is available in the online report 'Population Trends and Causes of Change: 2012 Report'



Activity causing pressure


Magnitude / trend of impact

Climate change


Reduction in abundance and quality of seabird prey (i.e. lesser sandeels)


Contamination by hazardous substances

Oil & gas; shipping operations

Mortality following contamination with spilled hazardous substances.


Marine litter


Plastic waste at sea is ingested by surface feeding seabirds.

Low/no change

Visual disturbance & habitat loss

Renewable energy; leisure & recreation

Offshore windfarms and watersports can exclude seabirds from foraging areas


Introduction of non-native species

Shipping operations; leisure & recreation

Size reduction or extinction of seabird colonies as a result of predation by non-indigenous mammals


Removal of species (intentional and unintentional)


Mortality from bycatch (i.e. incidental killing of birds in fishing gear)

Reduction in discards and offal discharge lowers food availability for scavenging species

Reduction in abundance of lesser sandeels available to seabirds in the North Sea

Unknown/ unknown



Unknown /increasing



High/decreased to low