European Parliament calls – AGAIN ! - for an EU Great Cormorant management plan

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14 Oct

The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution on the development of sustainable and competitive aquaculture. EAA is glad to see that in this resolution, the European Parliament has reiterated its call on the European Commission to propose an EU Great Cormorant Management Plan.

On 4 October, the European Parliament voted in plenary session on a report prepared by the Fisheries Committee, with Clara Aguilera (Spain, S&D Group) as Rapporteur on aquaculture. Most of the report (Striving for a sustainable and competitive EU aquaculture: the way forward) focuses on the need, the means and challenges of further developing a sustainable and competitive aquaculture sector in Europe. This report comes in the framework of the publication last year of the Commission’s strategic guidelines for a more sustainable and competitive EU aquaculture for the period 2021 to 2030.
As the Council of the EU did in its July conclusions on aquaculture, the European Parliament takes a very serious stance on the impact of cormorants’ predation on fish farms. EAA has supported the call for a European initiative, a management at European level, to tackle the impact of the growing population of this protected bird species. Of course, the focus for EAA is the impact of Cormorants colonies on wild fish stocks such as cod, grayling, salmon or eel, but also more generally biodiversity.
EAA welcomes this strong call from the European Parliament, echoing experts’ assessment shared at the occasion of a recent hearing on Cormorants’ impact on aquaculture and fisheries. The European Parliament had already made a similar call in 2008 (EP resolution - Towards a European Cormorant Management Plan), reiterated in 2018 (EP resolution - Towards a sustainable and competitive European aquaculture sector).
The text reads :

56. Calls on the Commission to prepare a proposal for an EU great cormorant management plan that could properly and definitively address the problem the aquaculture sector has been facing for many years, based on the best available scientific advice and experiences and practices already tested in Member States; urges that the plan be designed for the effective mitigation and control of their effect on aquaculture farms, with a view to reducing their economic, environmental and social impact on production and biodiversity; highlights that the plan should include a list of eligible measures on preventive coexistence solutions and adequate compensation for losses and measures, financed with EU or national funds; insists that financial support for tailor-made research aimed at finding and testing preventive measures is key, but also for allowing proper monitoring, including recording and analysing the effects of the measures undertaken; calls on the Member States to implement those measures on a local case-by-case basis and report to the Commission every year on the implementation of the plan, including the effectiveness of the measures chosen; calls on the Commission to evaluate the EU great cormorant management plan every five years and report to Parliament; urges the Commission to prepare, as an immediate action, a guidance document on how to apply derogations provided for in Article 9 of the Birds Directive, and to assess the need to modify the current legislation where preventive measures have proven insufficient and the financial and social impact does not allow for coexistence solutions, according to the best scientific advice;

The resolution also includes encouragements for the development of closed-system aquaculture and on land aquaculture, recognising as well the genetic alterations that escapees from aquaculture farms can have on wild populations of fish. This is a recommendation that the EAA has shared with the MEPs during the process of drafting this report, building on its 2021 resolution on salmon farming.

With both the European Parliament and the Council (EU Member States) calling for EU-wide management measures to be taken on Cormorants, EAA hopes that the European Commission will reassess the situation and propose new solutions – rather sooner than later ! – with in focus as well the impact on wild fish stocks and biodiversity. Indeed, this will be a point of vigilance for the EAA as recently, the European Commission failed to address this part of the problem in its reply to a question tabled by Member of the European Parliament Søren Gade.

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