Commenting after attending the launch of the Rathlin LIFE Raft Project - which has been developed by RSPB NI in partnership with Rathlin Development and Community Association, DAERA and Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust - he said:
‘‘Rathlin is internationally renowned for its puffin population but the Special Protection Area on the island actually supports over 20,000 breeding birds, including fulmar, eider and guillemot. It is vitally important that we protect these species for future generations to enjoy.
In this context I welcome fresh plans to deal with the rising threat of invasive species including rats and ferrets. This will be critical to ensuring our vulnerable and unique puffin colony and other bird species can go from strength to strength in the years ahead. It is also clear that the project will bring other benefits to Rathlin by boosting green jobs and supporting tourism.
I would like to thank my colleague the Environment Minister for getting behind this project and for providing funding through his Department. Today’s launch is also testament to the tireless efforts of the local community on Rathlin, as well as the RSPB, in promoting the interests of endangered habits and other environmental assets on the island.’’