Thursday 25 October 2018
Insight and possible solutions to improve the management of the European cormorant population to protect endangered fish species were presented during a conference held in the European Parliament in Brussels on the 9th of October.
The cormorant is a naturally occurring bird species in Europe but the population has greatly increased since the 80s. The birds’ appetite for fish represents a problem to endangered fish populations in freshwater habitats and is becoming an important threat. For the time being, cormorants are managed at the local level but, according to the European anglers, this is not enough. For them, the problem should be effectively addressed, and a cross-border cooperation is needed.
The event, entitled “Cormorant: management needed across the borders”, organised by AliénorEU, was chaired by MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik and MEP Werner Kuhn. The aim was to allow an exchange of views between EU policy-makers and the recreational fisheries sector represented by the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) and the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA). The event, attended by more than 40 people, engaged also MEPs, representatives of Member States, European Commission, Environmental NGOs, the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP) and the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE).
The European Parliament urges the Commission and the Member States 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.
European Parliament resolution “Towards a ‘European Cormorant Management Plan’’
The speakers presented evidence of cormorants’ predation effects of wild fish populations as well as the impact it has on biodiversity, commercial and recreational fisheries. It was showed how in the Nordic countries cormorants have negatively affected fish stocks along the coasts and in the freshwaters - with documented impacts on eelpout, cod, flounder, eel, salmon and grayling.
According to the EAA and the EFTTA, it is necessary to look at the cormorant issue from a European perspective. The two associations stressed the need to ensure a good balance between the protection of fish, birds, biodiversity and fisheries. While the cormorant must maintain its current ‘favourable conservation status’ as prescribed by the Birds Directive, weak fish stocks and threatened fish species need to be protected too. Therefore, the EAA and the EFTTA call for the development of a pan-European management plan – as the European Parliament asked ten years ago. In light of the evidence provided during the conference, it is clear that a balance must be ensured between the conservation of the cormorant and the protection of legitimate economic interests as well as the survival of other species.
 DIRECTIVE 2009/147/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds
 European Parliament resolution of 4 December 2008 on the adoption of a European Cormorant Management Plan to minimise the increasing impact of cormorants on fish stocks, fishing and aquaculture
Modern meeting room for 18 people. Catering can be provided.