The Commission has opened a public consultation on the planned EU Seabird Action Plan in order to gather views from stakeholders.
The aim of the Action Plan is to limit as far as possible the catches of seabirds in fishing nets by EU vessels. Longlines are considered the most harmful fishing gears, killing many birds including the threatened Balearic shearwater. Gillnets kill diving birds such as cormorants, shags and grebes.
The EU Seabird Action Plan is acknowledged to be long overdue. The Commission committed to taking action to reduce seabird bycatch 10 years ago. The Action Plan is scheduled for publication in Spring 2011, but there are rumours that the plan may be further delayed until Autumn 2011.
Birdlife International estimates that in the past 10 years over 2 million seabirds have been killed by fishing gear in the EU. The organisation points out that many of the species affected are protected by European law and in rapid decline.
The consultation closes on 9 August 2010.
European Commission press release: EU action plan for seabirds: the Commission calls for stakeholder input to enrich the debate
European Commission consultation paper: EU Action Plan for Reducing Incidental Catches of Seabirds in Fishing Gears
Birdlife International: Shadow Seabird Action Plan