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EU plan launched to halt seabird bycatch

Last modified: 16 November 2012

Fulmar in flight, Isle of May National Nature reserve

Fulmar's are just one of the birds that will benefit from a reduction in seabird bycatch

Image: Andy Hay

Today, after a long fight, the European Commission has finally launched an EU Plan of Action to reduce seabird bycatch: the incidental deaths of seabirds ensnared in fishing gears.

Along with our EU partners, we've advocated for an action plan since 2001, when the European Commission first committed to proposing one.

Gareth Cunningham, RSPB Cymru Marine Policy Officer, said: 'In our experience here on the Welsh coast, the Welsh fishing fleet do not significantly contribute to the seabird bycatch problem. As a result, we are calling on Welsh Government to support the EU Seabird Action Plan, and ensure that all EU vessels fishing within Welsh waters adhere to the plan’s recommendations to reduce seabird bycatch.'

He adds: 'Seabirds are among our most visible and iconic indicators of ocean health, and experience tells us that responsible fishermen would much rather catch fish than birds. The EU Seabird Action Plan now gives a golden opportunity to address the issue of seabird bycatch, and we hope the Welsh Ministers will act swiftly in implementing this.'

The EU Seabird Plan of Action aims to minimise and, where possible, eliminate the bycatch of seabirds in EU and external waters. In Wales we need to achieve this through a range of actions, notably calling on EU vessels fishing in Welsh managed waters, to apply mitigation measures and prevent seabirds coming into contact with their fishing gears.

How you can help

The seas around the UK's coasts are increasingly overfished, over-trafficked and over-developed, but crucially under-protected. Your support today will help safeguard our sea life.

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