North Atlantic Seabird Seminar – Island of Runde, West-Coast of Norway


What is happening with the seabirds in the North Atlantic? What can we do?


In previous times puffins and other seabirds were an important food supplement to the people who lived along the coast of the North-Atlantic. Now, instead, they have become food for the tourist’s telephoto lenses!  Tourists arrive in their thousands to see the spectacular birds come in from the sea in spring, but at the same time as puffin-tourism is increasing, fewer and fewer puffin chicks are hatched. According to many scientists something serious appears to be happening in the ocean, and with the seabird’s food. However, this is not the only factor: Where do the puffins go during winter? What happens to them in their wintering habitats?

There are still partly unanswered questions for seabird ecologists to resolve.


It is not only at Runde and along the Norwegian Coast that something seems to be happening with the seabirds. In fact, no other group of birds in the world today are declining faster. In the whole of the North Atlantic we have, over the last 10-15 years, been witnessing some very significant reductions in many seabird species such as puffins, kittiwake, fulmar, guillemot, common tern, arctic tern etc. What are these changes a symptom of? And what can we do about the situation? In order to get answers to these and other similar questions, we have invited some of Europe’s most famous Seabird Researchers from Iceland, England, Scotland and Norway. This makes it possible to compare the situation for the seabirds at Runde with other similar colonies in England, Iceland and Scotland.


Welcome to the Seabird Seminar!



Where and when: 20th and 21st of April 2015 Thon Hotel Fosnavåg, West Coast of Norway

Sign up here!

Programme here.

Final report and summary.

Presentations from the seminar:

Summary, by the speakers – Summary

Sarah Wanless – Puffins in the UK

Sarah Wanless – Sandeels as prey for seabirds in the North Sea

Alice Trevail – Seabirds and marine litter

Marguerite Tarzia – New trends in seabird conservation in Europe

Paul Shimmings – Special protected areas for seabirds in Norway

Sigrid Elvenes – The geology of seabirds

Euan Dunn – The puffin as an icon for conserving UK seabirds



Some famous researchers who will contribute to the seminar are:

  • Dr. Euan Dunn from England. Seabird Ecologist and Head of Marine Policy in the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which is not only is Europe’s biggest organization for the protection of birds, but also Europe’s biggest bird conservation society  with over a million members.
  • Researcher Alv Ottar Folkestad. For many years he has been the Leader of the Norwegian Ornithological Society.  Lifelong experience with seabird research at the Island of Runde.
  • Dr. Erpur Snær Hansen from Iceland. Seabird Ecologist and Head of Research at South Iceland Nature Centre.
  • Dr. Tore Johannesen from Norway. Senior researcher at Norwegian Institute of Marine Research.
  • Dr. Freydis  Vigfusdottir from Iceland. Seabird Ecologist, Expert on arctic tern and Researcher at the University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus in England, and at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History.
  • Professor Sarah Wanless from the UK.  Seabird Ecologist and one of the world’s greatest authorities on puffins, sand eels and the relationship between seabirds and climate change


Topics and problems


What is happening with the seabird populations at Runde, on the Norwegian Coast, in the UK, North Sea and Iceland – areas which have Europe’s biggest puffin colonies?


To what extent are the dramatic changes which are happening with many species of seabirds indicating a more fundamental change in the marine ecosystem? Are these changes a consequence of naturally occurring population oscillations? Or rather a result of human activities such as:

–          Climate change

–          Industrial fishing

–          By-catch of seabirds with modern fishing gear

–          Pollution in the sea including plastic

–          Invading predators such as rats, cats etc.

–          Oil production and transport at sea

–          Food availability


Panel Discussion 

When one compares the situation at Runde and in Norway with the situation at the Isle of May in England and with the Westman Islands of Iceland, what information and pictures will emerge?

What conclusions can be drawn?

Will the puffin survive at Runde?

What do we know? What do we not know?




What happens in contemporary sea and seabird conservation in Europe and the world?

What will the future bring in this field?

How is current knowledge about fish resources and seabird colonies applied in a way that makes it likely for future generations to experience this type of marine nature?

How should fish resources and seabird populations be conserved?



Why communicate about seabirds? How should we do it?

How can we make the experience of the seabird cliff into a gateway for a much wider nature interest and ecological engagement?

How can the seabird as a symbol, and the seabird cliff as a charismatic habitat, be used as a pedagogical model in the communication of these important questions?



What kind of seabird research, monitoring and science communication would be feasible at Runde in the future?



Contact persons:

Nils Roar Hareide

Tlf.: 412 91 107 or 700 80 810

E post:


Michael Hundeide

Tlf.: 466 22 828

e post: