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Avian flu action plan calls

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Avian flu action plan calls

A LONG term action plan is being demanded to help prevent a repeat of the devastation caused by avian flu outbreaks.

That’s the call from South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Colin Smyth.

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, the disease 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 last week, Mr Smyth said: “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.”

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