Fishers, NGOs and politicians collaborate to prevent seabird bycatch in Gran Sol

The workshop was attended by all stakeholders across the spectrum. Photo: Pep Arcos/SEO
The workshop was attended by all stakeholders across the spectrum. Photo: Pep Arcos/SEO

We’ve written before about the major threat of bycatch to seabirds, and how the issue is particularly serious in the Gran Sol area – a fishing ground located west of the UK in the Atlantic Ocean. On 2 December, SEO / BirdLife in Spain, BirdLife International and the Organization of Fish Producers of Lugo (in Spain) organized a conference to discuss the problem, focusing on the demersal longline fishing fleet in the Gran Sol.

The conference, held in the fishing town of Burela in Lugo, received broad support from the fishing industry and the administration as well as the scientific sector, and was attended by the Secretary General of Fisheries Andrés Hermida (GSP MAGRAMA), the Rural Environment Conselleira do Mar and the Xunta de Galicia, Rosa Quintana, and CEPESCA Secretary General Javier Garat.

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International ocean governance: can the EU take the lead?

Proper ocean management is necessary to sustain life. Photo: Yan Renucci/Flickr
Proper ocean management is necessary to sustain life. Photo: Yan Renucci/Flickr

The more we learn about oceans, the more we realise how important they are for our wellbeing. Our life depends on the benefits that oceans provide, which vary from food, energy and minerals to climate regulation and recreational services. WWF estimates the overall value of ocean “gross marine product” at US$ 24 trillion (about 22.6 trillion euros).

Despite their obvious benefits, oceans are facing multiple pressures, including overexploitation of fish stocks, pollution, climate change and ecosystem degradation, which are jeopardising the provision of these important services.

Oceans sustainability relies on the management of its different uses. Ocean waters under national territories of various countries have a “responsible guardian”. But what happens to the 60% of ocean waters that are “free to all nations, but belonging to none of them”? There is need for a stronger international management regime which will balance the use of ocean resources with the conservation needs of marine ecosystems.

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Malta live blog Day 3: International workshop on Marine Protected Areas

18.14 “Without data, you’re just a person with an opinion” – a good conclusion to continue the amazing work that has been presented in the last 3 days, where we now come out with a lot of positive energy and concrete steps forward. Over and out!

Banner by Luis Martínez

17.18 The workshop is now coming to an end. We have had discussions between governments, NGOs, about conservation actions needs and policy measures, from seabirds to learning what’s worked for marine mammals.

It seems that the seabird community is a very coordinated group! So kudos to all. And as Julien from the MAVA foundation says “Go Seabirds”. We whole-heartedly share that message!


17.04 In the eastern Med, the Yelkouan Shearwater seems to be a good indicator species to understand the interaction between Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

First up is compile all the information that is already there. It might seem strange, but if the data is sitting in different computers, there won’t be a coherent analysis. So just coming together “online” is a big step. It also seems that there needs to have a census across the region, as well as building a network of observers.

Yelkouan Shearwater, a good indicator species

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Malta live blog Day 2: International workshop on Marine Protected Areas

View the Day 1 blog here.

View the Day 3 blog here.

6:11 pm: Medmaravis is an important network of experts, with skills in monitoring seabirds and engaging with local communities. Today, they have explained their pollution report. Seabirds are not only impacted by contaminants such as plastics, but seabirds can be used as indicators for monitoring contaminations. More information on their work from their recent issue.

Joe Sultana, one of the founders of BirdLife Malta and very engaged with Medmaravis wants to keep the work for this society to share the knowledge of experts.

5:47 pm: National identification of priorities from across the Mediterranean (Libya, France, Croatia, Italy) leads us to a clear message: eradication of invasive species (rat and cats) is important to save seabirds, but can be controversial.

Costs of eradication can be considered “cheap” if you consider that you get results in one swoop. But can we get around the controversies to save seabirds?

Check this database on eradication of invasive species for more information.

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4:00 pm: Can you tell the difference between Cory’s Shearwater and Scopoli’s Shearwater? Not so easy – but the inner web of their primary feathers are different, their size is different, and they also vocalise differently. Their biggest different is their DNA.

Scopoli’s Shearwater has recently been split taxonomically from Cory’s Shearwater. So how did Maria determine when updating the data which species it was? It is easier to differentiate breeding colonies in the Atlantic (Cory’s) and eastern Mediterrenean (Scopoli’s). The problem lies with countries like Spain where both species breed in similar colonies. These requires field identification, and Maria is ready to come look at any site you might want to flag to her!

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Malta live blog Day 1: International workshop on Marine Protected Areas

View the Day 2 blog here.

View the Day 3 blog here.

5:06 pm: Ben Lascelles from BirdLife International (not to be confused with the Ben from BirdLife Malta) sums up the first day.

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17 nationalities are represented at the workshop today and more than 100 people will pass through. Compared to 2009 where around 30 people were present, this goes to show that people do care about seabirds!

4:47 pm: Ben from Birdlife Malta shows that to help maltese seabirds, we need to protect birds off the coast of Africa including western and northern Africa. Birds have no boundaries!

Ben from Malta

4:25 pm: Protecting breeding colonies is important, but that is not the whole story. Protecting foraging areas is just as important, if not more.

So after identifying those important areas, it leads us to management and crunching that field data.This is all about good marine spatial planning and incorporating and analysing the economic activities and finding solutions that can benefit seabird conservation and the economy.

Or, as Steffan Oppel says, “how to make sure you conserve seabirds but try to piss off as little amount of people as possible”.

3:52 pm: 


3:43 pm: 


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