Biosecurity for LIFE is a project working to improve biosecurity practice on all 42 of the UK’s offshore island Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated for breeding seabirds.

Seabirds often choose to nest on islands with no land predators and are particularly vulnerable to the introduction of invasive non-native predators such as rats, mice, stoats, mink, feral cats, and hedgehogs. Seabirds have not evolved to defend themselves from these skilled hunters, and invasive predators can quickly decimate breeding colonies by eating eggs, chicks, and adult birds. Just one pregnant female brown rat can wreak havoc on a seabird island, producing a colony of 300 in just over eight months. It is therefore vitally important to stop them reaching our islands’ shores.

Since our project started in 2018, we have recorded a number of significant biosecurity threats around our seabird islands, a rat jumping onto a rat free island from a boat, a mouse onboard a boat heading to a SPA island, clear rat sign on a boat heading to a SPA island and two cargo spills and five shipwrecks close to SPA islands including a yacht grounded off the Skerries in North Wales. The chance of rodents reaching our seabird islands is a current threat not just something from the distant past.

Unintentional passengers like rats or mice can also damage your vessel so come along to our stand to talk island adventures, pick up free resources on how to keep your vessel stowaway free and help protect our spectacular seabird islands.

Biosecurity for LIFE is a partnership between RSPB, National Trust, and National Trust for Scotland, it is funded by EU LIFE Environmental Governance and Information [LIFE17 GIE/UK/000572], NatureScot, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, and the Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

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