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Location Iceland, Austur-Bardastrandasýsla,Dalasýsla,Snæfellsnes og Hnappadalssýsla,Vestur-Bar-astrandasýsla
Central coordinates 23o 0.00' West  65o 19.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii, B1i, B1ii, B2, B3
Area 300,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 41m
Year of IBA assessment 2015

Fuglavernd - BirdLife Iceland (Partner Designate)

Site description A very large area of coastal waters off western Iceland, containing thousands of islands and islets. The bay is rather shallow and there are extensive intertidal areas adjoining the heavily indented coastline. Habitat also includes marshes and grassland on some of the islands. Land-uses include seaweed-harvesting, exploitation of seals (Phocidae), eider husbandry (Somateria mollissima), traditional harvesting of eggs of Rissa tridactyla, Sterna paradisaea and Larus marinus, chicks of Phalacrocorax aristotelis and P. carbo, and adults of Fratercula arctica, and net-fishing for lumpfish Cyclopterus lumpus.

Key Biodiversity The site supports huge numbers of breeding seabirds; Fulmarus glacialis is common but does not meet criteria.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greylag Goose Anser anser non-breeding  2,000-3,000 individuals  poor  B1i  Least Concern 
Greylag Goose Anser anser breeding  1997  1,700 breeding pairs  B1i  Least Concern 
Brent Goose Branta bernicla passage  10,000 individuals  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Eider Somateria mollissima resident  40,000-50,000 breeding pairs  A4i, B1i, B2  Near Threatened 
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo breeding  2010  3,896 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Least Concern 
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis breeding  1973-2007  4,116 nests  good  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 
Red Knot Calidris canutus passage  200,000 individuals  A4i, B1i  Near Threatened 
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus resident  1973  12,000-18,000 individuals  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus resident  1989  4,500-5,000 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla breeding  2005-2007  17,283 nests  medium  A4i, B1i, B2  Least Concern 
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle resident  530 breeding pairs  B1ii, B3  Least Concern 
Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica breeding  100,000-499,999 individuals  A1, A4ii, B1ii, B2  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  200,000-210,000 individuals  A4iii   
A4iii Species group - seabirds breeding  1973-2010  500,000-999,999 individuals  poor  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Breidafjordur Conservation Area 286,584 protected area contains site 300,000  
Flatey Nature Reserve 82 protected area contained by site 100  
Hrisey, Reykholahreppi Nature Reserve 223 protected area contained by site 40  
Melrakkaey Nature Reserve 1,611 protected area contained by site 9  
Vatnsfjörð ur Nature Reserve (Landscape) 20,000 protected area contained by site 20,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Standing freshwater  -
Sea Sea inlets and coastal features  80%
Coastline Rock stacks and islets; Salt marshes; Sea cliffs and rocky shores; Tidal rivers & enclosed tidal waters  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -

Protection status National High International None100 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Flatey, 100 ha). 40 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Hrisey, 40 ha). 9 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Melrakkaey, 9 ha). 20,000 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Landscape) (Vatnsfjördur, 20,000 ha). 300,000 ha of IBA covered by Conservation Area (Breidafjördur, 300,000 ha).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Breidafjördur. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife