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Many seabird species declining

Target

1.2 No species or habitat types will become extinct or be lost, and the status of threatened and near-threatened species and habitat types will be improved.

Indicator

Status of specific threatened species

Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

According to the SEAPOP monitoring programme, pelagic seabirds had only moderate breeding success in Svalbard and North Norway in 2015, but did better in colonies further south. For coastal species, breeding success was more variable than in 2014.

What can the 2015 results tell us about various species?

The serious long-term decline in kittiwake numbers all along the mainland coast is giving scientists most cause for concern. About three quarters of Norway's kittiwakes breed in Svalbard, and the total breeding population in Norway is about 340 000 pairs. In the past ten years (2005-2015), the only colonies where breeding numbers have remained stable or increased are those in Svalbard and a colony on Anda, a small island in Troms county.

The common guillemot is classified as critically endangered on the Norwegian Red List of Species (2015), and seven colonies are monitored as part of the SEAPOP programme. The Norwegian population is only 20 % of what is was 50 years ago. During the past 10 years, guillemot numbers have risen at the colonies on Bjørnøya and Hornøya (Finnmark county), while trends for the other colonies vary. The small colony at Sklinna in Nord-Trøndelag has been stable for some years, but numbers rose by 33 % from 2014 to 2015, when 649 pairs were counted.

There is also a fairly small razorbill colony at Sklinna. One unexpected piece of good news from the 2015 breeding season was that this colony increased in size by as much as 65 % from 2014.

However, the puffin colony on Røst (Nordland) suffered total breeding failure for the ninth year running. This is the longest period without any fledgling production since monitoring started in 1964. The population decline is continuing, and was 7 % from 2014 to 2015. In 2015, there were 289 000 puffins on Røst, which is the lowest figure ever recorded and only 20 % of the population in 1979.

Coastal seabird species generally had a poorer breeding season in 2015 than in 2014. However, both 2014 and 2015 were good years for cormorants, and Hjelmsøya (Finnmark) was the only colony where there was decline in numbers.

Shags had a much poorer breeding season in 2015 than in 2014, and numbers dropped at four of six colonies. Shags have also been doing rather poorly over the past 10 years, and three of the five colonies for which figures are available show a population decline in this period. There has been a similar pattern for cormorants in this period, although the subspecies sinensis, which is monitored at colonies in Vest-Agder and the outer Oslofjord, has been more successful.

The common eider was red-listed for the first time in the 2015 Norwegian Red List of Species. It has been placed in the category near threatened (NT) on the basis of a population decline of 15-30 % in the past 15 years. In 2015, more breeding common eider were registered at Grindøya (Troms), Røst and in Vest-Agder, but fewer in the outer Oslofjord.