ANGLERS CONDEMN CONTINUED LACK OF EUROPEAN CORMORANT POPULATION FIGURES
The European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) today criticised the delay in the publication of research into the size of the cormorant population in Europe.
The figures - which should have been made public in September by INTERCAFE and the Wetlands International Cormorant Research Group - would have been used by the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries to amend a report calling for a pan European Cormorant Management Plan.
Members have an urgent deadline of Monday (October 13) to amend Dr Heinz Kindermann’s report but were unable to consider the non-existent figures at their Committee meeting on Tuesday this week.
Jean-Claude Bel, chief executive of EFTTA, issued a statement today condemning the delay. And he urged Fisheries Committee members to discount statements made at this week’s meeting by Intercafe’s Dave Carss, which refuted the Kindermann report’s insistence that there could be more than 1.8m cormorants predating European fish stocks.
M. Bel said: “On Tuesday (7th October), at the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries, it was expected that two experts would bring with them the latest figures on the European cormorant population, but they couldn’t.
“This is a surprise as it had been announced that figures from the first pan-European count of cormorants breeding colonies (2006) would be available in September1. This delay is most unfortunate as the Members of the Committee have a deadline Monday, October 13, for amending MEP Kindermann’s draft report on a European Cormorant Management Plan2.
“This gives Parliamentarians no time to consider or discuss the latest population estimates.
“The two cormorant experts cannot be blamed for this delay but it was a surprise, however, that one of them Mr Dave Carss, chairman of the INTERCAFE project3 found this the right place and time to pass on a message that the Wetland International Cormorant Research Group consider the population figure in Kindermann’s report, 1.7-1.8 million birds, “to be wrong and considerably overestimated.” However, there was no mention of what is the right figure!
“No public statement about this has been issued from the Research Group itself and we are still waiting for their figures to published.
“So for now we urge the Members of the Committee on Fisheries not to take into account this statement from Mr Carss and to not let it have any influence on their amendments for Monday and the 5 November voting. As you can imagine there will be a heated discussion amongst stakeholders when the figures hit the public domain.
“Due to lack of data and countings, the exact size of the total cormorant population is always open for some interpretation but we don’t know of a better estimate than the 1.7 -1.8 million figure as shown in Mr Kindermann’s report.
“That figure is based on information already made publicly available. According to BirdLife there were roughly 300,000 breeding pairs, which equals 600,000 individual breeders in Europe year 2000/2002.
“Since then, there has been a sharp increase especially in the Baltic area. The current number shouldn’t therefore be lower than 700,000 individual breeders.
“And from a paper written by Mr Bregnballe4, a prominent member of the INTERCAFE action, we know that the total population at end of summer can be calculated as between 2.4 and 3.3 times the number of breeding birds.
“That gives a population of between 1.7 and 2.3 million cormorants – as high as or higher than the 1.7 -1.8 million claimed in the Kindermann report. We are confident that the figures we are awaiting won’t bring the cormorant population “considerably” under 1.7 million.
“The figures we are awaiting are already two years old but the cormorant population was and still is on the increase. An increase of just 10% per year (Finland is more than 40%)6 would mean another 200,000 birds to be added onto whatever figures we are presented.
“Needless to say, there is a great need that cormorant countings and estimates are done more frequent (annually) and with higher accuracy. This is essential for management but it would also help to avoid these tiresome figure discussions amongst the groups of stakeholders. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that the population size discussion is only a secondary issue.
“The prime issue is the substantial damages caused by these birds. There are thousands of cases from all over Europe showing threats and damages to fish stocks, which could be lessened or eliminated via proper management of the cormorant.
“The fisheries sectors have urged for more than a decade that the population increase has to stop, but it is still increasing, day by day. Fish farmers, commercial fishermen, pond owners, recreational anglers and angling dependant businesses suffer. People are put out of work and anglers give up their fishing. Also the environment suffers - where these birds are around in big numbers, other birds are affected.
“The European cormorant is not endangered in any way - but many fish stocks and fish species are severely threatened.
“We have listened to the same arguments again and again for more than a decade that a pan-European management plan is not adequate or necessary but none of these arguments hold water. The best evidence for that is the still increasing number of cormorants in Europe in spite of huge efforts and millions of euros spent locally on all kinds of cormorant protection and scaring devices. Only recently we have been presented for two new most ridiculous arguments not heard before5.
“Firstly, that cormorants cause no damage to commercial fisheries. Further, that reducing the number of cormorants would be ineffective and would not reduce any damage.
“These claims contradict scientific evidence available and any use of common sense.
“The time is up. A pan-European management plan has to be put in place. We are confident that most people agree with us that a pan-European management plan is needed now as the most logic and cost effective solution to the European cormorant problem in a world where all other parts of nature is managed already one way or the other.”
Dr Kindermann’s report urges the European Parliament to take wholesale action on the widespread cormorant problem and gives 12 compelling reasons why the Parliament should pass a resolution 'on the adoption of a European Cormorant Management Plan to minimise the increasing impact of cormorants on fish stocks, fishing and aquaculture'.
The report will be accepted by the parliament's Committee on Fisheries on November 5, before being voted on in December. A full copy of the Kindermann report is available here in 21 languages.
For the English version, click here
For the Italian version, click here
For the French version, click here
For the Spanish version, click here
For the German version, click here
For the Portuguese version, click here
The European Anglers Alliance cormorant dossier is available here
1) The Wetlands International Cormorant Research Group and members of INTERCAFE (COST) organized a pan-European Great Cormorant (P. carbo) breeding colony count in 2006.
“1st pan-European count of cormorants breeding colonies in 2006. Data for the following countries have already been provided by national coordinators and will be reported by September 2008…” http://web.tiscali.it/sv2001/
2) “Draft report on the adoption of a European Cormorant Management Plan to minimise the increasing impact of cormorants on fish stocks, fishing and aquaculture.”, Raporteur Heinz Kinderman - in 21 languages: www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/organes/pech/pech_20081007_1100.htm
3) INTERCAFE: Interdisciplinary Initiative to Reduce Pan-European Cormorant-Fisheries Conflicts:
4) Bregnballe, T., Frederiksen,.M. & Lebreton, J.-D. (2001), The interplay between culling and density-dependence in the great cormorant: a modelling approach. Journal of Applied Ecology 38 (3)
5) Claims in a letter to Members of the Committee on Fisheries, dated 1 Oct 2008 by
NABU, Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union; German partner of Birdlife International
6) Finnish Environment Institute 27 August 2008: “The population grew from the previous year by 42 percent which is somewhat less than the average growth in the previous five years, 47 percent” www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=293924&lan=EN