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The Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is a protected bird species and may not be hunted, captured or killed. In accordance with Article 9 of Directive 2009/147/EC, derogation measures can be applied by Member States so as to prevent serious damage to crops, livestock, forests, fisheries and water. The Commission has recently published a guidance document on “Great cormorant – Applying derogations under Article 9 of the Birds Directive 2009/147/EC”. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/pdf/guidance_cormorants.pdf

The cormorant has become one of the biggest problems for freshwater fisheries and aquaculture mainly because, being a migratory bird, its predation cannot be tackled successfully at local levels. Over the past 20-25 years, the population of cormorants has increased substantially. Estimates indicated 50,000 breeding pairs in 1976 grew to an estimated 285,000 by 2006, which means 1.4 million cormorants! These put great pressure on aquaculture and natural fish stocks. Since cormorants eat 400-500 g. of fish a day, this equates to close to 200,000 tons of fish eaten each year and significant effects on natural stocks and aquaculture.

European Committees studies and projects have tried to address the issue, but with very little effect on the predatory problems. Since these involve environmental, economic, social, and other issues, it has proven to be very difficult to tackle all aspects at once.

The latest and most important of these actions is the ‘CorMan’ Project – ‘Sustainable Management of Cormorant Populations’ - initiated and financed by the EC, and managed by representatives of Aarhus University (Denmark) and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UK). ‘CorMan’ is responsible for developing the EU Cormorant Platform (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/cormorants/home_en.htm). This includes organising pan-European counts of cormorants. A Stakeholders’ Liaison Group (SLG) has been established, connecting selected European stakeholders to the project. FEAP is one of the stakeholders to be represented in the SLG which also includes European Anglers Alliance, EIFAC (European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission of the FAO) and Birdlife International. Ferenc Levai (Hungary) represents FEAP in the SLG.

In the spring of 2014 the CorMan project announced the publication of the report 'Breeding numbers of Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo in the Western Palearctic, 2012-2013'. The report has been published by Aarhus University in collaboration with IUCN/Wetlands International Cormorant Research Group.

 


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Cormorant breeding counts  Download (4,811050 Mb)
Summary of the survey

Cormorants: a huge problem for freshwater aquaculture