Great Cormorant - Substantial Danger to Fish Populations and Fishery in Europe

German Anglers Association, Weißenseer Weg 110, D-10369 Berlin, Germany


STEFFENS, W., 2010. Great cormorant – substantial danger to fish populations and fishery in Europe. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 16: 322-331

Numbers of great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) increased considerably during the last three decades in the whole of Europe. In the middle of the last century the species was scarce in most of the European countries and was found mainly near the coast or estuaries, seldom in the vicinity of inland waters. According to countings of Wetlands International in summer 2006 the number of breeding great cormorants in the western Palearctic is 744 672. This means that the total number of birds is about 2 million. The increase and the expansion of the cormorants in Europe result in serious ecological damage to fish populations and in remarkable economic and socio-cultural losses to fishery. Considering that the daily food intake of a cormorant is 500 g the total daily fish predation by the birds comes to 1000 t. Big problems appear as well in natural waters as in fish farms.
Already in 1995 a cormorant hearing in the European Parliament took place and in March 1996 a decision of the European Parliament followed. In July 1997 the subspecies Ph. carbo sinensis was deleted from Annex I of the Wild Birds Directive (79/409/EEC). In May 2007 the Parliamentarian Intergroup “Sustainable Hunting, Biodiversity and Countryside Activities” discussed in Strasbourg the problems evoked by cormorants in Europe.
In November 2007 the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC) asked for the promotion of preparation and effective implementation of a European cormorant management plan. In December 2008 the Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament called for the establishment of a European management plan to minimize the increasing impact of cormorants on fish stocks, fishing and aquaculture. The resolution was adopted by the majority of the Plenary Sitting. It is now necessary that the European Commission realizes this resolution. With regard to the protection of fish populations and the maintenance of sustainable fishery and fish culture in Europe a considerable reduction of the cormorant population by a pan-European management plan is indispensable.

Key words: Great cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo, fish losses, fish protection

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