Ireland is an island nation sitting in the North Atlantic giving a large coastline and a number of seabird interests. There is very little data on the distribution of pelagic seabirds around the Irish Seas, with the exception of reports produced by the UK-JNCC and mapping of foraging terns around the largest colonies. BirdLifes Irish partner BirdWatch Ireland (BWI) has begun research into marine sites important to birds with the view of identifying marine IBAs, initially focusing on breeding colony extensions before extending the work offshore. Important priority species include: European Shag (LC), European Storm-petrel (LC) , Manx Shearwater, Annex I terns (Sandwich, Roseate, Common, Arctic & Little).
Threats to Irish seabirds include:
o Habitat loss to coastal and port developments and inappropriately sited renewable energy devices including windfarms
o Depredation from invasive species at island colonies
o Overfishing, bycatch issues in offshore EEZ waters
In 2009 BWI and partners Queens University Belfast and RSPB initiated a tracking study of breeding Kittiwakes, Guillemots, and Razorbills at a single colony, Lambay Island, near Dublin, which began the process of identifying feeding areas and marine habitats used, distances travelled from colony etc. The FAME (2010-2012) project extended this work to another priority species, the European Shag and increased the sample sizes for the other three species and the tracking data helped delineate seaward extensions of this IBA and generic rules that may be applied to other sites. Also in 2009, BWI in partnership with the state conservation authority National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS), undertook a research cruise on a large section of the western continental shelf in August looking for concentrations of seabirds and their association with cetaceans. Additional surveys have been carried out in 2010 and 2011. The offshore wind energy industry has collected a large data set on the offshore distribution of seabirds at four shallow water areas on the east coast and although most of this is not yet in the public domain, NPWS access this data and to use it for the designation of conservation areas. The data available suggests that some important marine IBAs such as the Irish Sea Front and two east coast sandbanks probably support qualifying levels of priority species for inclusion in the Natura 2000 network.
o Review data to hand, from JNCC reports, 2009-2010 research cruises and offshore windfarm EIAs, then establish a national database of seabirds at sea information
o Apply Global and Regional IBA Criteria to the above to identify target areas for boundary definition
o The FAME project (2010-2012) has provided foraging area and range data from GPS-tag deployment on 4 key species (Shag, Kittiwake, Guillemot and Razorbill), each representing a particular foraging guild
o FAME has also delivered coordinated seawatches for the Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwaters during late summer and autumn and this could identify other non-breeding or bottleneck marine IBAs for this and other migratory seabird species
o A new census of all Irelands seabirds, 15 years after Seabird 2000, is due to commence in 2014.
Government's support/relevant policy
93% of all the IBAs already declared based on breeding seabird species are also designated as SPAs. To date there has been no government led initiative to monitor numbers and productivity seabirds on a systematic, annual basis nor identify and designate seabird MPAs under the EU Birds Directive. However, the government has supported projects such as the Seabird 2000 project with funding and in 2009-10 collaborated with BWI to gather seabird data on cruises at the western margins of the Irish Atlantic EEZ. Please see policy tab for list of agreements that this country is party to.
Petrels and shearwaters
Gulls and terns
Ducks, geese and swans
o Chivers, L.S., Lundy, M.G., Colhoun, K., Newton, S.F., Houghton, J.D.R. & Reid, N. 2012. Foraging trip time-activity budgets and reproductive success in the black-legged kittiwake. Marine Ecology Progress Series 456: 269-277.
o Chivers, L.S., Lundy, M.G., Colhoun, K., Newton, S.F., Houghton, J.D.R. & Reid, N. (2012). Species distribution models that predict important areas to seabirds demonstrate the need for mobile Marine Protected Areas. Manuscript for submission.
o Crowe, O., Tierney, N. & Wheeldon, R. 2009. Distribution, Extent and Status of Irelands Important Bird Areas. Unpublished BirdWatch Ireland Report to the Heritage Council, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow.
o Jessopp, M.J., Cronin, M, Doyle, T.K., Wilson, M., McQuatters-Gollop, A., Newton, S.F. & Phillips, R.A. (2012). Transatlantic migration by post-breeding puffins enables exploitation of temporarily abundant food resource. Manuscript for submission.
o Mitchell, P.I., Newton, S.F. Ratcliffe, N. & Dunn, T.E. 2004. Seabird Populations of Britain & Ireland. T. & A.D. Poyser, London.
o Newton, S.F. & Crowe, O. (2000) Roseate Terns The Natural Connection. A conservation / research project linking Ireland and Wales. Maritime Ireland / Wales INTERREG Report No. 2. 60pp, Marine Institute, Dublin.
o OClery M. 2007. Breeding seabirds of the Magharees and related islands, County Kerry, 2006/2007. Irish Birds 8: 179-188.
o Pollock, C., Reid, J., Webb, A. & Tasker, M. 1997. The distribution of seabirds and cetaceans in the waters around Ireland. JNCC Report No. 267, Peterborough.
BirdLife International (2013) Country profile: Ireland. Available from: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/country/ireland. Checked: 2013-05-26