Industry and Nature in Harmony

Operation Seabird launches for 2023

Operation Seabird launches for 2023

The launch of this year’s Operation Seabird took place on Tuesday 4th April at Saltfleet and Far Ings NNR, with organisations across the Yorkshire, Humber and Lincolnshire coasts coming together to raise awareness of our spectacular wildlife. First launched in August 2020 on the Flamborough Headland, the Humber Nature Partnership will be supporting this day of action, as the coastline prepares for the Easter break. The day will involve visible police patrols to look out for disturbance and antisocial behaviour and offer advice to visitors about how they can minimise their impact on our coastal wildlife along the Humber Estuary European Marine Site.

Regarded as one of the most important estuaries in Europe for its wildlife and habitats, the Humber Estuary European Marine Site covers the entire Humber Estuary as spans the North Sea from the Spurn Peninsula to north Mablethorpe. During the spring and summer months, the reedbeds and shingle on the beaches support elusive and sometimes rare species such as Bittern, Marsh Harrier and Little Tern during their breeding season. Over the autumn and winter months, the land and skies around the Humber Estuary fill with migrating birds such as Pink-Footed Geese, with the rich and fertile habitat providing a welcome food source after their long journey from Scandinavia, Iceland and beyond.

Humber Nature Partnership (which includes local authorities along the Humber and Lincolnshire Coast, Natural England, Environment Agency, RSPB, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and many other stakeholders) unfortunately received 190 reports of wildlife disturbance from members of the public during 2022. Many of these incidents were likely by people who did not know they were causing an issue such as impacting breeding success or overall health of these legally protected species and habitats. Operation Seabird aims to engage with and educate members of the public on issues around wildlife disturbance.

Chief Inspector Derek Hussain who is the lead for Rural Crime in Humberside Police said, “Our dedicated Rural Task Force have to deal with a number of reports each year of members of the public on the water, approaching too closely to the wildlife that lives in the area. This includes nesting seabirds and marine mammals.

“The key focus of Operation Seabird is to ensure that members of the public using the waters along the Yorkshire coast and Humber Estuary do so in a responsible way. We want to ensure they keep their distance from the wildlife to prevent intentional disturbance and to safeguard this stretch of coastline, allowing future generations to enjoy the spectacle we see today.”

DC Aaron Flint, Force Wildlife Crime Officer for Lincolnshire Police said “The Lincolnshire coastline is a very important feature of our amazing county, providing habitat for wildflowers, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals. It also attracts many visitors each year. Unfortunately, each year we receive a large number of reports relating to members of the public disturbing wildlife such as nesting birds or resting seals, damaging the features of our SSSI’s either on foot, using motor bikes/ off road vehicles or airborne vehicles such as paramotors.

The focus of Operation Seabird is to protect our important coastline whilst also allowing members of the public enjoy it responsibly, this is done mainly through educating the public regarding the need to keep their distance from wildlife to prevent disturbance, stay on footpaths and public areas and not to drive motor vehicles on the sites to prevent destruction of SSSI features. It’s important to note that although education is the main focus of the operation enforcement action and prosecutions will be taken where necessary.”

Jackson Sage, Project Manager for the Humber Management Scheme at Humber Nature Partnership saidThe Humber Estuary is home to up to 140,000 breeding and migratory birds, marine mammals such as seals and Harbour Porpoise, all supported by tens of thousands of hectares of delicate habitats protected under UK law. We want people to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and wildlife we have on our doorstep, but do so in a way that does not come at the expense of the important species and habitats that we are so lucky to have.”

Geoff Edmond, RSPCA National Wildlife Coordinator said “Operation Seabird is being launched for 2023 building on the success it has achieved with many organisations working together to support the Police and RSPCA in partnership to encourage people to enjoy the wonderful marine wildlife we have on our coastline and to keep a safe distance to avoid any disturbance. I welcome the opportunity for the RSPCA to work alongside the Humber Nature Partnership and the Police”.

More information about how to responsibly enjoy our great outdoors can be found on Countryside Code ( or the Yorkshire Marine Nature Partnership website (

05 April 2023 by Jackson Sage

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