Demands are being made to better protect thousands of seabirds on Cumbria’s coast.

Nearly 10,000 birds – many of them rare – nest at St Bees head every year.

They include guillemots, razorbills, puffins and England’s only nesting black guillemots.

When these birds are on land they enjoy special legal protection. But as soon they go out to sea to find food they have no such protection.

That, conservationists say, puts them in danger from fishing nets and disturbance from recreational boats.

And they are urging people to lobby the Government to give the birds greater protection.

Calum Booth, RSPB marine conservation officer for north west England, said: “As the only breeding site in England for black guillemot, it’s essential that we maintain a strong foothold for this species at St Bees Head.”

The Government has designated the stretch of sea from Whitehaven to the mouth of the Ravenglass Estuary as the Cumbria Coast Marine Conservation Zone, which will form part of a network of protected areas around England’s seas.

The site protects rare underwater habitats and fascinating creatures, including the blue mussel and honeycomb worm reef.

However, seabirds are not covered by the new legislation.

Furthermore, the area that is protected around St Bees Head, only goes out about 1km from the coast, so the zone also needs to be extended to make sure these birds are protected while they are at sea.

It’s adding to this protection that is the crux of the RSPB campaign.

Mr Booth added: “Thérèse Coffey, Minister for Environment, will soon be finalising the details of this Marine Conservation Zone so we are lobbying for it to be extended and for black guillemots and the other important breeding seabirds to be added a feature.

“This means that protection and management for this wildlife can be put into place.

“We need people to show they care about the future of Cumbria’s seabird colony by writing to their MP and getting them to tell the minister why these birds need to be protected.”

Supporters hope that the marine conservation zone plan will strengthen protection of rare wildlife along the Cumbrian coast.

It is also hoped that the designation will balance the need to bringing more tourists to the area with ensuring that rare creatures are not put at further risk of being harmed or the environment damaged.