RULES governing coastal and inshore fisheries must be overhauled to protect stocks and ensure food supplies for sea birds, says the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
The birds rely on fish for food and last year was their worst on record for breeding on UK coasts, it says.
The poor season was blamed largely on the decline of sand eels, thought to be affected by rising water temperatures due to climate change.
Heavy fishing by industrial fleets is likely to exacerbate the problem.
The RSPB call for action comes as Environment Minister Elliot Morley is expected to outline details for draft marine legislation in a speech at the Coastal Futures 2005 conference starting today in London.