Preventing seabird bycatch in fisheries
Every year at least 200,000 seabirds die as bycatch in fishing gears – mainly long lines and gill-nets, but to a lesser extent also trawls and purse seines – of EU fishing vessels, with the Baltic and eastern North Sea estimated to account for at least half of this toll.
All the birds involved are protected under the EU Birds Directive and for some, such as the endemic Balearic shearwater, bycatch is threatening the species with extinction in the next 40 years. Well beyond EU waters, in the Southern Ocean, 17 out of 22 albatross species are endangered, largely due to incidental bycatch in long lines and trawls of fleets, which include EU-flagged vessels.
For over a decade Birdlife Europe campaigned for the European Commission to come up with a robust strategy to protect these birds by introducing an EU Seabird Action Plan. This was achieved in November 2012 with the adoption by the European Commission of a Plan of Action for reducing incidental catches of seabirds in fishing gears. BirdLife Europe will take an active role in the implementation of the Action Plan and ensuring that it is an operational success.
Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.