South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport & Rural Affairs Colin Smyth has called for a long term action plan to help prevent a repeat of the devastation caused by avian flu outbreaks.
According to RSPB, the recent unprecedented outbreak of HPAI in overwintering geese killed an estimated third of the world population of Svalbard barnacle geese in the Solway area.
This summer, HPAI has gone on to affect Scotland’s internationally-important colonies of seabirds up and down the coastline, from Shetland to the Bass Rock and the Mull of Galloway.
Speaking during topical question time in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Colin Smyth said: “The cabinet secretary will be aware that the avian flu outbreak has been particularly devastating for overwintering geese on the Solway and has killed an estimated third of the world’s population of Svalbard barnacle geese.
“Sadly, more and more of my constituents are commonly finding dead birds strewn along paths on the shore.
“Given the devastation, does the cabinet secretary accept that there is a need for more action to build resilience in the long term by looking again at measures such as restrictions on sand eel fisheries and properly ending bycatch in order to build resilience and better conserve our seabirds?”
Speaking after the session, the local MSP added: “Our region is famous for the geese which migrate here each winter and avian flu had a horrendous effect on them.
“This terrible disease is now affecting birds up and down Scotland and we need a long term plan to help prevent future outbreaks.”