Animal-borne bio-logging devices are routinely fitted to seabirds to learn about their behaviour and physiology, as well as their interactions with the marine environment. The assessment and reporting of deleterious impacts from such devices on the individuals carrying them is critical to inform future work and improve data quality and animal welfare. We assessed the impacts of thoracic-harness attachments on the breeding performance and inter-annual return rates of Great Black-backed Gulls. We found that tagged individuals hatched fewer eggs per nest (0.67) than two different control groups (handled but not tagged – 2.0, and not handled – 1.9) and had lower hatching success rates per nest (27% compared with 81% and 82% in control groups). Inter-annual return rates were similar between tagged and control groups, but the harness attachment potentially caused the death of an individual 5 days after deployment. Overall, the harness attachment was a lead driver of nest failure. We urge extreme caution for those wanting to use harness-mounted devices on Great Black-backed Gulls.