Working together to protect the European Seas
About 71% of the worlds’ surface is covered by water, mainly oceans and seas. Only in Europe, the size of the Economic Exclusive Zones (EEZs) of EU countries exceeds several times the terrestrial area...but how much do we actually know about our seas? Do we know where our seabird breeding populations go while migrating, feeding or resting? Are we sure human activities such as fishing or maritime transport are sustainable?
The answers to all these questions are complex, but we like to be challenged, and that is why BirdLife set up the Global Seabird Programme (GSP), and asks for your help to protect our wild marine habitats and species.
Marine IBAs, a first step towards a European Marine Protected Area network
The terrestrial Important Bird Areas (IBAs) has been a flagship programme of BirdLife International since the ‘80s and it is globally recognised as a powerful and effective conservation tool. In recent years, the BirdLife Global Seabird Programme, particularly in Europe, has led the way in developing scientifically robust methods for the identification of those areas also at sea, they are what we call marine IBAs.
Because of their selection according to solid scientific criteria, BirdLife promotes the classification of all marine IBAs as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) to implement the EU Birds Directive – one of the key elements in establishing the Natura 2000 network. This is of great relevance as the BirdLife IBA inventories have often been recognized by the Court of Justice of the European Union as the list of sites that should be classified as Special Protection Areas under the EU Birds Directive in the absence of other scientific evidence.
How does BirdLife identify Marine IBAs?
Over the past 6 years, BirdLife Partners have intensively studied the migration, feeding and moulting patterns of all seabird species. The implementation of small data-loggers attached to the birds’ body, together with intensive boat and/or plane seabird surveys plus the refining of the latest environmental modelling methods, has allowed BirdLife to become the world’s leader on the identification of marine protected areas.
Over this period, several workshops, international meetings and project reports shaped the methodological framework for the identification of marine IBAs, that have now been compiled into a single comprehensive guidance document: The Marine IBA Toolkit.
The Marine IBA Toolkit is both a step by step analysis of the identification process and a useful guide for EU countries to identify their needs in terms of seabird protection at sea. It is also a live document, that will be updated every six months, as part of our global strategy to always provide the latest and most cost-effective methods in marine research.
Does the Natura 2000 network need to be extended to the marine environment?
EU Member States have to protect marine areas as part of the Natura 2000 network in all the marine areas under their jurisdiction. In 2001, the Council of Ministers recognised the need for implementation of the nature directives in the EEZ as a key element for the protection of the marine ecosystem (Council Conclusions, 2001).
This acknowledgement supports the establishment of the Natura 2000 network at:
• The internal waters and the Territorial Sea
• The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and/or to other areas where Member States are exercising equivalent sovereign rights (fishing protection zones, environmental protection zones…)
• The Continental Shelf.
In the case of the Atlantic, The EEZ could extend up to 200 nautical miles (370,4km). In the Mediterranean and Black Seas the situation is still unclear, given the fact that there are no official EEZ declared by most countries, and therefore N2000 remains constrained to territorial waters or fishing management zones (normally 12-25 nm from the coastline)
Following on the Message from Malahide and the 2010 target, the EU Biodiversity Action Plan set the following calendar for Member States’ implementation of the Marine Natura 2000 network: "complete marine network of Special Protection Areas (SPA) by 2008; adopt lists of Sites of Community Importance (SCI) by 2008 for marine; designate Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and establish management priorities and necessary conservation measures for SACs [by 2012 for marine]; establish similar management and conservation measures for SPAs [by 2012 for marine]".
So what is the situation now?
As described above, protecting our seas is both a methodological and political challenge. But good news are that both have now clear rules and legal frameworks to be resolved. This is why we have merged both into one EU-Assessment: Marine IBAs in the EU.
This document will help you to:
• Review the latest information on marine IBA networks across the EU
• Present BirdLife Partners’ National priorities in terms of marine IBA identification
• Review EU Goverments’ support for the establishment of Marine SPAs
Workshops organised by BirdLife Europe:
Berlin Gillnet Bycatch Worksop, 2012
- Gillnet Seabird Bycatch Workshop REPORT, 2012
- Baltic: Denmark Gillnet Bycatch by Krag Petersen
- Baltic: Germany Gillnet Bycatch by Jochen Bellebaum
- Baltic: Latvia Gillnet Bycatch by Antra Stipniece
- Baltic: Lithuania Gillnet Bycatch by Mindaudas Dagys
- Global overview: BirdLife European Marine Task Force by Ivan Ramirez
- Global overview: Canada Gillnet Bycatch by April Hedd
- Global overview: Canada Fisheries impacts by Bill Montevecchi
- Global overview: Japan Gillnet Bycatch by Mayumi Sato
- Global overview: Russia Gillnet Bycatch by Mayumi Sato
- Global overview: Developments in Gillnet mitigation by Orea Anderson
- Global overview: Mammal Mitigation Research by Finn Larsen
- Global overview by Ramunas Zydelis
- Nordic: European Policy context Gillnet Bycatch by Euan Dunn
- Nordic: Greenland Gillnet Bycatch by Flemming Merkel
- Nordic: Iceland Gillnet Bycatch by Aevar Petersen
- Nordic: Norway Gillnet Bycatch by Kirstin Fangel
- ATF experience by Oli Yates
- Camera Monitoring Seabird Bycatch by Finn Larsen
- Save Wave Technology by Dimitri Vernicos
- Breakout group mitigation measures and fisher engagement
- Summary by Cleo Small
- Conclusions by Ivan Ramirez
Next Page » Stop Seabird Bycatch in EU fisheries