Various protected areas have been established throughout the archipelago for birds, seals and fish. These protected areas are to protect the animals and to create the conditions required for successful nesting and breeding.
The right of public access (allemansrätten) in nature protected areas
Nature reserves, nationalparks and special protected areas for wildlife and plants have regulations restricting the right of public access. The regulations are designed to preserve the natural values within each reserve or protected areas.
Protected areas for birds and seals
For several species of coastal bird, Stockholm archipelago is the one of the Baltic Sea’s most important breeding areas. About thirty species are breeding here and another ten species are found more or less regularly during the breeding season. The number of coastal birds are close to 200 000 pairs.
The most important reason for creating special protected areas for birds and seals is that they need to be undisturbed during the breeding season. Most species of bird breed early, and any disturbances can have disastrous consequences in the cold weather that characterises spring in the archipelago, since the eggs go cold if the bird is frightened away from its nest.
Birds face many threats
Birds face many threats. Recreational activities at inappropriate times of the year, toxic emissions, oil and the mink are all in their own way threats to our birdlife. Respect the times that you are prohibited from entering the protected areas for birds, so that we can continue to see flocks of eider ducks and greylag geese in the bays and inlets, and the majestic white-tailed eagle in flight.
You are welcome to venture out on an ice-skating tour, canoe adventure or boat trip across the open bays or in the sheltered inlets, but never pass through a protected area for birds. You can hardly imagine the damage you may do.
A canoe may be the greatest danger
It is not primarily the boat itself that frightens animals, but the person in it. Birds see humans as a threat and a person who approaches a breeding bird is seen as a particularly immediate threat. The bird will abandon its nest. This can happen if you are using a large or a small boat, and particularly if you are using a canoe, which moves silently and can enter areas of shallow water.
People cause a disturbance just by taking a walk, and in winter by ice-skating. An ice-skater is just as threatening as a canoe, but the season means that the threat is even more serious, since disturbances during the winter often have disastrous consequences for breeding. If a bird abandons the nest, the eggs go cold in seconds, crows finish off the job, and the year’s breeding is ruined.
Ice-skaters must also show consideration
But surely birds don’t breed in the winter? Yes they do, and that’s the problem. Our largest and most timid birds, the white-tailed eagle and eagle owl, begin their breeding seasons as early as January and lay their eggs in mid-February to March. The coldest time of the year.
Access prohibitions for protected areas for birds are laid down under the provisions of the Swedish Environmental Code, Chapter 7, Section 12. Violation of this prohibition can give a prison sentence of six months. Entering a protected area for birds during a prohibited period is a serious crime against the Swedish Environmental Code, Chapter 7, Section 12. It is usually punished by a fine of between SEK 1000 and 5000.
A prohibition against fishing during the period 1 April-15 June has been in force since 2006 in 25 bays located from Singö in the north to Mörkö in the south. The purpose of the prohibition is to increase fish reproduction in the archipelago and to improve the long-term conditions for sustainable fishing.
PROTECTED AREAS FOR BIRDS AND SEA ARE INTENDED TO:
- Protect threatened and rare species.
- Protect particularly important breeding grounds for archipelago birds, such as the scoter, red-breasted merganser, skua, razorbill, black guillemot, common guillemot and terns.
- Protect large colonies of such birds as terns and auks, since disturbances here will affect relatively large numbers of birds.
- Protect small bird islets within intensively used areas.
- Protect seals during the vulnerable breeding and moulting period.
- Seal protection areas have been set up in areas in which the grey seal lives in established groups.
REGULATIONS FOR PROTECTED AREAS FOR ANIMALS
- Pay attention to the warning cries of birds, and warning behaviour. If they fly low from anxiety, if they pretend to be injured, or if they go to attack, you are too close to the nest.
- Avoid landing on small islets during the spring and early summer.
- Avoid fishing close to breeding skerries during critical periods.
- Stay on the cliffs and rocks, and avoid walking along beaches and waterside meadows where the birds have their nests.
- Always keep your dog on a leash. If possible, leave it on the boat when you land on small rocks or skerries.
- If you happen to frighten a nesting bird, leave the place immediately and go back the way you came.
- When travelling by boat, be careful of bird families with fledglings in the water. High speed and high wave surges can separate the members of a family.