Guernsey

Alderney's gannets and renewable energy link studied

Les Etac gannetry
Image caption Previous research has indicated there are more than 7,000 gannets in and around Alderney

Alderney's population of gannets could be adversely affected by renewable energy developments, a study has found.

The research by the University of Liverpool found that the seabirds fed in nine areas earmarked for tidal, wind or wave power developments.

Fifteen gannets were tagged and tracked by GPS for the study and further work is planned on the issue.

The research was carried out with the help of the Alderney Wildlife Trust and the British Trust for Ornithology.

It was funded by the Alderney Commission for Renewable Energy.

More trackers

Viola Ross-Smith, Research Ecologist with the British Trust for Ornithology, said it was difficult to say what would happen following the publication of the research.

She said: "All the study shows is that gannets are crossing areas where renewable energy developments are proposed."

She added: "It's not particularly a surprise to know they visit these sites."

Ms Ross-Smith said further investigations were planned, possibly involving more trackers attached to more birds.

She said the latest research had been based on between three and five days' worth of tagging.

Roland Gauvain, manager of the Alderney Wildlife Trust, said the results of the research were exciting.

He said the study showed gannets were travelling further and further to collect food and were seen to be following fishing boats.

'Wide foraging range'

He added that the impact of the research on renewable energy around Alderney could turn out to be positive or negative.

Mr Gauvain said that future changes in fishing practices could have more of an effect on local sea birds.

He said evidence had shown that tidal farms attracted shellfish, which in turn attracted more birds.

Nicola Soames, of the University of Liverpool, said it was unclear how Alderney's gannets would deal with changes to their environment.

She said: "Because they have such a wide foraging range they'll maybe have to adapt and just move to other areas."

Previous research indicated there were more than 7,000 gannets in and around Alderney.

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