Nature Champions: Puffin

(c) Calum Langdale

The unmistakable ‘clown of the sea’ is one of the world’s favourite birds. During the breeding season, puffins can be found nesting in burrows across Scotland, with the largest colony found on the island of St Kilda. Puffin numbers have sadly plummeted and they are now threatened with global extinction. Chick survival can be greatly affected by food supply, particularly of sandeel. The abundance of this small fish has declined in Scotland due to warming sea temperature and commercial fishing. Nesting in burrows on the ground makes puffins particularly vulnerable to invasive mammalian predators, which are not naturally present on the remote islands where they breed.

Action Needed

  • A rolling programme of island eradications to restore lost breeding colonies and biosecurity measures to keep all existing breeding sites predator free.
  • End sandeel fishing in Scottish waters.
  • Ensure important areas for sandeel and puffin are effectively managed in protected areas.
  • Urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.


  • Invasive non-native species at breeding sites
  • Climate change 
  • Prey availability

MSP Nature Champion

Claire Baker

Member for: Mid Scotland and Fife

Region: Mid Scotland and Fife

Party: Scottish Labour Party

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