, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 98-111

Seabirds and sandeels: the conflict between exploitation and conservation in the northern North Sea

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Sandeels, especiallyAmmodytes marinus are a major component of the diet of many predatory fish, seabirds and seals. The industrial fishery for sandeels is now the largest of the North Sea fisheries. A sandeel fishery in the Shetland area began in 1974 but has recently declined. This change was accompanied by dramatic declines in the breeding success of certain seabirds, particularly Arctic terns and kittiwakes. Current information on seabirds and sandeels in the Shetland area is reviewed and areas where further research is needed, highlighted. The Shetland problem illustrates the difficulties of reconciling conservation and exploitation when fundamental ecological and behavioural knowledge is lacking, and also the need to obtain further information on the ecological impact of industrial fisheries.