WILDLIFE experts are calling for a zone to be put in place to protect seabirds off the coast of east Durham Coast and Tees Bay.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) say the area is vital for foraging seabirds, including the birds from the tern colony at Crimdon Dene.
Specialists are warning that not enough seabirds, including puffins, terns and gannets are being protected, particularly in the North Sea.
They say the Government should use its power to designate more marine protected areas to help protect seabirds out at sea.
Helen Quayle, RSPB’s marine conservation officer for the North-East and Yorkshire, said: ““The seas around the UK – in particular the North Sea – are rich in wildlife, but they are also important for economic interests too.
“Fisheries, renewable-energy projects, oil and gas exploration, tourism and shipping are just some of the industries that are competing with each other and the environment for growth.
“We believe that wildlife must be safeguarded alongside the marine ‘gold rush’ that’s currently underway.
“Protecting the most important sites would take them out of jeopardy and would provide much-needed clarity for marine developers and industry.”
A Marine Conservation Zone is currently being considered at St Mary’s Lighthouse, off the Tyneside coast.
To support a campaign to protect seabirds visit www.rspb.org.uk/marinepetition.