Thanks to the advocacy work carried out by BirdLife Europe and Central Asia and other partner organisations the EU is taking important first steps towards solving the seabird bycatch problem. On 16 March 2017, the European Parliament adopted the essential data collection regulation.
Seabirds are amongst the world’s most threatened group of birds. Across Europe, it is estimated that around 200,000 seabirds are accidentally caught and killed by commercial fishing hooks and nets each year. In many cases, the lack of systematic data on the number of birds caught makes it difficult to identify the extent of seabird bycatch within a specific fishery. The data collection regulation will oblige EU member states to supply data to the European Commission about the impact of fisheries on the wider ecosystem. This kind of data will help us understand the levels of incidental bycatch of seabirds and other species occurring across Europe.
Bruna Campos, EU Marine and Fisheries Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia said: “We are very happy to see that the EU is finally taking action to tackle seabird bycatch. Knowing where, when and how a seabird is being caught by fishermen is fundamental to be able to have the right solutions in the right place and stop this disastrous ecological challenge”.
Eliminating seabird bycatch ensures that we can sustain the integrity of the ocean ecosystem. Europe is falling behind many other countries such as South Africa and Namibia that already have minimised seabird bycatch by more than 90%. It’s about time that the EU got serious about this issue.