Cormorant Position Paper - November 2020

For notes and references please download the position paper

EAA Cormorant Position Paper, November 2020

The European Parliament adopted a resolution in 2008, which urged the EU Commission “to promote the sustainable management of cormorant populations by means of increased scientific and administrative coordination, cooperation and communication, and to create appropriate conditions for the drafting of a Europe-wide cormorant population management plan.” 

However, the request was not followed by the Commission. The request remains as relevant today as it was in 2008. In 2008 the European population of cormorants was estimated ca. 2 million. Today, the population is about the same size. The bird’s impact on threatened or protected fish species is a serious problem in many places. The quality of fishing is severely hampered in many inland and coastal locations, too. As the cormorant is highly migratory, cross-border cooperation, ideally a pan-European management plan, is required.

But the EU Commission’s position is:
“The Commission recognises the need for coordinated action to address the issue of cormorants. However, the Commission does not consider that an EU‑wide management plan would be an appropriate measure for that, as it was clear from earlier debates, that there is no consensus between Member States on the type of action to take or on the need and value of managing cormorant populations at a pan-European scale. Article 9 of the Birds Directive lays down a derogation system that provides a tool to protect fisheries' interests and, if used in a more coordinated manner, can contribute efficiently to reducing the impact of cormorants on fisheries and some aquatic ecosystems.”

a) As the cormorant problem is not resolved or lessened in spite of the European Parliament’s request more than a decade ago, and

b) as the Birds Directive is not about protection only but also management and control of birds (Art 1), and to take into account economic and recreational requirements (Art 2), then the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) urges the following:

1) EAA urges strongly all EU Member States, which don’t make efficient enough use of the derogation possibilities in the Birds Directive’s Article 9 to protect flora, fauna and fisheries against damage by cormorants to do so.

2) EAA urges the introduction of regional management plans. A Nordic-Baltic area management, plan or cooperation scheme could be a first.

- The Nordic-Baltic area
hosts more than 50% of Europe’s population of nesting cormorants. The cormorants from this area cause problems not only in the Nordic-Baltic area but in many European countries during migration and winter.

- Denmark, Sweden and Finland regularly conduct counts of ‘their’ cormorants and have good knowledge of the birds’ migration patterns. This is basic data and knowledge needed for a science based cross-border management scheme. All states around the Baltic Sea manage cormorants in various ways and to varying degree, but not in coordination with other countries.

- Not all Baltic states need to be involved from the outset. And the scheme could be open for other states, which might show an interest in attending e.g. Norway and UK.

3) EAA urges a substantial but phased reduction of the European cormorant population.
‘Adaptive management’ is an approach suitable for this purpose. It would safeguard the cormorant’s ‘good conservation status’ from one year to another. Population reduction will help ‘everywhere’ and reduce management efforts and costs. 

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