Nature Champions: Sandeel

(c) RSPB

This slim, silver fish gets its name from its eel-like shape and movement. They feed and spawn in huge shoals in Scottish waters, and are a ‘cornerstone species’ in the marine environment. Despite their ecological importance, climate change and commercial fishing is adversely impacting sandeels. The North Sea sandeel fishery is predominantly targeted by Danish vessels, but not for human consumption. It is an industrial fishery, for livestock or aquaculture feed and for use as a fertiliser. Sandeels are a vital food supply for seabirds,  marine mammals and larger fish, so their declining population levels have repercussions throughout the marine ecosystem. Scotland is internationally important for its seabirds, hosting one third of European breeding populations, but species such as puffins and kittiwakes that rely on sandeels to feed their chicks are in trouble.

Action Needed

  • End sandeel fishing in Scottish waters.
  • Urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.
  • Ensure important areas for sandeel are effectively managed in Marine Protected Areas.
  • Promote transparent, accountable and ecosystem-based fisheries management.


  • Climate change
  • Commercial fishing
  • Habitat loss and disturbance

MSP Nature Champion

Willie Rennie

Member for: North East

Region: North East Scotland

Party: Scottish Liberal Democrats

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