To date there have been three large seabird censuses that provided national level population estimates for the majority of Ireland and Britain’s breeding seabirds: 1969-70 (Operation Seafarer); 1985-88 (Seabird Colony Register); and 1998-2002 (Seabird 2000). NPWS is currently undertaking a multiyear seabird monitoring programme which will feed into the next UK & Ireland seabird census.
How marine birds use Ireland’s offshore waters is less well known but a research project, entitled ObSERVE, by Department of Communication, Climate Action and the Environment and NPWS is set to address this. ObSERVE Aerial is a three-year programme to undertake extensive aerial surveys and collect data on the distribution and abundance of cetaceans, seabirds and other marine megafauna in Irish offshore waters.
The project is being led by University College Cork with project partners Aerosotravia, IMARES, and Alnilam (for more info see http://www.observe-aerial.ie/).