BirdLife welcomes EU proposals to eliminate seabird bycatch

BirdLife says proposed EU legislation to clamp down on fishing vessels that unintentionally catch seabirds  

Mediterranean Storm Petrel - photo : Hadoram Shirihai)
Mediterranean Storm Petrel - photo : Hadoram Shirihai)

BirdLife Malta has hailed proposed EU legislation that will make it mandatory for all European fishing vessels that unintentionally catch seabirds to implement counter-meaures to stop themselves from doing so.

Describing the proposals as “good news for seabirds”, BLM said in a statement that it has studied seabirds for over three decades and that in the past 10 years it had led EU-funded projects to study them in more depth.

The latest project, which will close in June of 2016, designates the first Marine Special Protected Areas (SPAs) for Malta. BLM said it has collected enough scientific data to identify which areas of our seas within the 25 nautical mile are important for three particular seabirds - the Mediterranean Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), the Yelkouan Shrearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) and the Scopoli’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea diomedea).

Following the designation of SPAs, Malta will implement management plans for these areas, bringing a balance between human activity and the effects on these birds.

“In Malta there is very little knowledge of the extent of by catch of seabirds and this proposed legislation will allow us to understand whether this is a problem and how to mitigate it,” BLM said. “We will remain committed to safeguard the wellbeing of our seabirds while working hand in hand with all stakeholders to achieve this.”