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Seabirds and Marine - EU Action

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    How the EU tackles threats to seabirds

    European Parliament in Strasbourg, © BirdLife Europe

    The EU has several laws that ensure that the marine environment can be conserved and enhanced. This includes the Birds and Habitats Directives and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The European Commission oversees this and can take countries to the European Court of Justice for failing to implement them.

    How can laws turn into effective conservation?

    Marine E-atlas, © BirdLife Europe

    Member States need to designate specific sites as marine Natura 2000 sites to implement the Birds and Habitats Directives. Management plans then need to be drawn up, specifying actions to be taken to conserve species and habitats.

    One of BirdLife's main objectives is to gather as much data on seabirds and their marine environment as possible. We have produced a marine e-atlas to illustrate the important bird and biodiversity areas at sea. With this knowledge, we can work with national governments and the European Commission to ensure that all Natura 2000 sites are designated and management plans are implemented.

    • More data collection is needed in the EU

      'Ringing' a seabird, © SEO/BirdLife

      The EU requires Member States to collect and report on specific data in marine areas, mainly with regards to fisheries, through the Data Collection Framework Regulation. The new framework proposed by European Commission in 2014 sets out the new rules of what Member States need to collect and report. It is crucial that these new rules include data collection on seabird bycatch and marine ecosystems.

      Although the BirdLife partnership is at the forefront in collecting seabird data, it is the responsibility of the Member States to ensure that this data is acquired. There is still a tremendous gap in knowledge of the marine environment and seabird decline.

      Read BirdLife Europe's position on the Data Collection Framework Regulation

    The EU plan of action to tackle seabird bycatch

    • Changing the fishing gear of boats is part of the solution!

      The EU has established a broad set of rules which govern how, where and when fishermen may fish. They are established for all European sea basins, but they differ considerably from one basin to another, in accordance with the regional conditions. In 2014, the European Commission proposed a new set of rules to cover the North Atlantic and North Sea.

      Read BirdLife Europe's position on the Technical Conservation Measures Framework Regulation

      Fisherman setting a fishing line © SEO/BirdLife

    Hooked Cory Shearwater, © John J Borg

    Dead Kitiwakes, © DOF

    In 2013, the European Commission acknowledged that seabird bycatch was a major problem for the conservation of seabirds and that the EU needed to tackle it collectively. The plan of action has several recommendations, including increased data collection on seabirds and their ecosystems and changes in vessels' gears to decrease seabird bycatch. It also promotes greater investments under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund to decrease seabird bycatch.

    Two major upcoming regulations would therefore be crucial to implement this plan of action: the Data Collection Framework regulation and the Technical Conservation Measures Framework Regulation.

    Read BirdLife Europe's position on the EU's Action Plan to tackle seabird bycatch


    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.