Bird protection charity, the RSPB, is calling for more help for Northumberland’s iconic eider duck, 1,300 years after St Cuthbert introduced the first laws to safeguard its future.
Also known as Cuddy’s duck – after St Cuthbert – it is believed eiders inspired the saint to create the world’s first conservation legislation in the eighth century, apparently decreeing that no one should eat or disturb those nesting on the Northumberland coast.
More than a millennium later, eiders remain a cause for conservation concern. They are declining throughout Europe as a result of hunting, pollution and disturbance.
Early this year, the Government designated the stretch of sea between Whitley Bay and Alnwick in Northumberland as the Coquet to St Mary’s Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), which will form part of a network of protected areas around England’s seas. However, as it currently stands, the nationally important population of eiders that live within this zone all year round will not be covered by the new legislation.
Now the RSPB is calling on Thérèse Coffey, Minister for Environment, to add eiders as a feature to the MCZ, which means that protection and management for birds can be put into place. They need people to show they care about the future of this integral part of Northumberland culture by writing to their MP and getting them to tell the Minister why this bird needs to be protected.