UK seaside residents and holidaymakers who feed seagulls could be fined under new council powers in an effort to stop the birds attacking people for food.

People who feed the often aggressive birds could be hit with an 80 pounds ($148) fine as part of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) issued by East Devon District Council.

The ban comes after much debate about how to tackle what has been described as a "scourge" on Britain's seaside areas.

Read more: How seagulls ruined one man's holiday

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In 2015, then British prime minister David Cameron said a "big conversation" was needed about the threat from seagulls, and he recalled ham once being stolen from a sandwich by seagulls.

While gulls are an important part of the coastal environment, their behaviour can be problematic, said East Devon District councillor Iain Chubb.

He said: "You like to see the birds, it's a nice part of the landscape, but you just don't want them to be aggressive."

The fines will be aimed at addressing habitual feeders and cafes and restaurants which do not dispose of waste food properly, he said.

"It's more a fine for where there is, say a catering establishment with bad practice of disposing of food, or there are little old ladies who like to go down and feed the seagulls," said the councillor, who holds the environment portfolio.

"It's one of those things where, if you've got somebody who is habitually feeding seagulls, it's something to say you shouldn't be doing this, there is a fine at the end of the day."

- AAP