Referring to the proposed new legislation by the European Commission that will make it mandatory for all fishing vessels in the EU that incidentally catch seabirds to put in place measures to stop them from doing so, BirdLife Malta joined BirdLife International in welcoming this good news for seabirds.
BirdLife Malta has studied seabirds for over 30 years and in the past 10 years it lead projects funded by the EU Life+ programme to study seabirds in more depth. The latest project which will close in June of 2016 aims to help the government reach its objectives and designates the first Marine Special Protected Areas (SPAs) for our country. BirdLife Malta has worked closely with the Ministry for Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change (MSDEC ) to collect enough scientific data to identify which areas of our seas within the 25nautical mile are important for three particular seabirds, the Mediterranean Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), the Yelkouan Shrearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) and the Scopoli’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea diomedea).
Following the designation of SPAs, Malta will implement management plans for these areas bringing a balance between human activity and the effects on these birds. In Malta there is very little knowledge of the extent of by catch of seabirds and this proposed legislation will allow us to understand whether this is a problem and how to mitigate it.
BirdLife Malta will remain committed to safeguard the wellbeing of our seabirds while working hand in hand with all stakeholders to achieve this.