A campaign by Birds On The Edge to save the Island’s much loved puffin by the creation of a Seabird Reserve has moved a step closer with the submission of a planning application for a section of profile fencing.
The proposed Seabird Reserve will require the erection of a one-mile predator proof fence to protect the puffins, their eggs and chicks from non-native predators such as rats and ferrets (mammals like these are a threat to seabirds worldwide). An application is being submitted for the erection of a temporary section of the fence so that people can see for themselves what the Seabird Reserve might look like.
The profile fencing section will be a 15-metre-long section constructed in the same area where the real fence would be proposed in the future. The mock-up will be identical in height, colour, and overall look of a real predator fence. It will be in place for a minimum of two months before being removed, to give all members of the community the opportunity to visit the area and see the section for themselves. The public will also be encouraged to engage with the project via a range of platforms including drop-in sessions, opinion polls, and social media.
It is hoped that this will demonstrate to the public both the visual impact the fence will have on the landscape as well as the protection that it will afford to coastal wildlife. The BOTE Partnership will also use the opportunity to help boost understanding of the project and wider appreciation of the wildlife found at Plémont.
BOTE ultimately wants the people of Jersey to see and decide for themselves if this project is a fair compromise in order to protect the puffins and other wildlife from becoming extinct in Jersey.
BOTE’s Cris Sellarés, Project Officer, commented on the application:
“There are now likely to only be eight puffins left in Jersey. If we don’t do something now, there is a real risk that we will lose the iconic seabird which plays such an important part in Jersey’s natural and cultural heritage.
However, BOTE fully recognise that such a strategy comes at a price and the proposed fence will have some visual impact upon the coastal landscape. It is, therefore, imperative that Jersey’s community has the opportunity to assess the impact for themselves and decide whether they feel this project should go ahead. Such decisions are never easy but undoubtedly will be increasingly required if our community is going to play a full and active role in addressing the current biodiversity crisis.
The continuing loss of biodiversity in Jersey through local extinctions will inevitably result in a denuded and poorer environment for this generation and those that follow on. Already we have seen the loss of the yellowhammer and turtle dove and alarming declines in such species as starling and cuckoo. The time has now come to decide whether we wish to see the puffin and other seabirds follow suit or actively attempt to find solutions.”
Glyn Young, co-founder of BOTE said:
“Provision of a predator-proof fence to protect our Island’s remaining puffins and other seabirds may be the last hope we have to keep these wonderful birds in Jersey. Seabirds today face a multitude of global problems from changing sea temperatures and overfishing to pollution and human disturbance. They need safe areas to nest and rear their young away from non-native predators, who if left free to access nest sites would eat the birds’ eggs and chicks. The proposed site, free of predators, will likely see the return of former breeding seabirds such as the Manx shearwater and storm petrel too. They visit our coast annually but recognise that the Island is currently unsafe for nesting. BOTE invited Kirsty Swinnerton to draft an initial proposal in 2018. Delayed by the pandemic it is exciting to see this project progressing so well. Fencing of this kind has been very successful in protecting endangered seabird populations in Hawaii, New Zealand and elsewhere. Without making bold advances like this, Jersey will face the loss of large components of its natural environment and become a poorer place”.