The launch of this year's Operation Seabird will take place on Thursday 14 April, with organisations across the coast coming together to raise awareness of Yorkshire's spectacular wildlife.
First launched in August 2020, the Yorkshire Marine Nature Partnership (YMNP) will be supporting this day of action, as the coastline prepares for the Easter break. The day will involve visible police patrols along the Yorkshire coast to look out for disturbance and antisocial behaviour, and offer advice to visitors about how they can minimise their impact on marine wildlife.
The coast will, once again, be a big part of holiday plans, as many head to Yorkshire's beaches over Easter and into summer. We share the coast with thousands of breeding seabirds, resident porpoises and seals, and visiting pods of whales and dolphins.
This wildlife is iconic and enthralling for many people, but it's important to make sure our activities don't cause stress or panic in the animals. This could mean staying further away, avoiding going onto certain beaches, reducing the speed of your vessel, or simply being still and quiet.
Heather Davison-Smith, development officer for the Yorkshire Marine Nature Partnership, said: "Operation Seabird action days are a great opportunity to highlight how important our marine wildlife is, but also how sensitive it can be.
"Through this initiative, and the Partnership's work around protected areas like Flamborough and Filey, we're really encouraging everyone to be mindful of their actions. The simple message is: Enjoy spending time in nature this summer, but leave space for wildlife. This applies whether you're at sea, walking your dog on the beach, or enjoying the cliff-top footpaths."
PC Rich Fussey, wildlife and heritage crime officer with Humberside Police, added: "The Yorkshire coastline is a fantastic landscape and an important feeding and breeding ground for a variety of seabirds and marine mammals.
"Unfortunately, we have a number of reports each year of members of the public approaching too closely to the wildlife that live in the area.
"The key focus of Operation Seabird is to ensure that members of the public enjoy the Yorkshire coast in a responsible way. We want to ensure they keep their distance from the wildlife to prevent disturbance and to safeguard this stretch of coastline, allowing future generations to enjoy the spectacle we see today."
PC Graham Bilton, the rural safer neighbourhood team ward manager and wildlife crime officer within North Yorkshire, said: "It's a real privilege to have such diverse marine wildlife visiting and making its home along our stretch of coastline. It is essential that we, together with the public, do our bit to protect it.
"By avoiding situations where disturbance and interference can occur, we can help these animals thrive, and ensure future generations can enjoy their presence too. Operation Seabird is about advising and educating people to ensure they behave responsibly around marine wildlife in order to avoid disturbance and to lessen the negative impact we can have on our native fauna and flora, however if required we will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those who choose to ignore or flout the guidelines.
"As part of the national day of action on the 14 April, the Humber Nature Partnership will also be launching Operation Seabird on the Humber Estuary. Regarded as one of the most important estuaries in Europe for its wildlife and habitats, the Humber Estuary is home to a number of protected bird species and vital habitats.
"In recent years, The Humber Nature Partnership has received an increasing number of reports of disturbance, impacting breeding success and overall health of legally protected species on the Humber."
Jackson Sage, project manager for the Humber Management Scheme at Humber Nature Partnership, added: "The 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 we have on our doorstep, but do so in a way that does not come at the expense to the important species that we are so lucky to have."