Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Seabirds need effective marine conservation in wake of discard ban, warns study

Date:
March 22, 2013
Source:
British Ecological Society (BES)
Summary:
Conservationists have renewed urgent calls for effective marine protection in European waters, after a new study revealed that the recent EU ban on fish discards could have a significant short-term impact on some seabirds.

Conservationists have renewed urgent calls for effective marine protection in European waters, after a new study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, revealed that the recent EU ban on fish discards could have a significant short-term impact on some seabirds.

The research, led by scientists from Plymouth University in collaboration with RSPB and with funding from NERC, found the new EU policy, outlawing the dumping of fish at sea, is unlikely to pose a serious lasting threat to most seabirds, but recommends the need to build resilience into seabird populations by protecting habitats and ensuring a sufficient supply of food.

For several decades, a number of seabird species have grown accustomed to feeding on discards, the excess catch thrown back into the sea mostly because fishermen have exceeded their quotas. Buoyed by this bonanza, populations of several seabird species have boomed.

However, in the biggest change in European fisheries management for a generation, last month the European Parliament voted to scrap the controversial practice of discarding.

The Plymouth University review article revealed that scavenging species such as great skuas and large gulls, which have come to rely on discards, may be among the first to suffer due to an immediate shortage of food. However, by their very nature, these opportunistic feeders should be able to switch to alternative food sources -- provided they exist -- although scientists acknowledged there is a risk that some seabirds may switch to preying on other seabirds. Concern is also expressed for the 'critically endangered' Balearic shearwater which makes significant use of discards.

In a bid to mitigate this short term impact, the RSPB is renewing calls for Marine Protected Areas, to ensure that seabird foraging areas and prey populations are ready to cope with an increased demand for wild caught food.

Dr Euan Dunn, Head of Marine Policy at the RSPB said: "This long overdue ban helps to put our seas back on an even keel, and restore our seabirds to the balance they had with the marine environment before the advent of industrial-scale fisheries. Seabirds are a hardy bunch and we are heartened by the conclusion that most will weather the storm of a discard ban. Nevertheless the loss of discards could pile the pressure on the UK's seabirds already depleted by climate change-driven changes to their marine food chain. It underlines the need to build as much resilience as we can into their wider protection both on land and at sea. This research once again highlights the importance of marine protected areas, particularly in the short term as species adapt to necessary changes in fisheries management, and emphasises the vital role for government to play in the conservation of our internationally important seabird populations."

Dr Stephen Votier, Associate Professor in Marine Ecology at Plymouth University, said: "Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is long overdue and hopefully the changes this brings will be beneficial for seabird populations throughout the EU. However marine ecosystems are inherently complex making it hard to predict precisely what will happen. For instance a discard ban may have negative impacts as some scavengers switch to feed on alternative prey, such as smaller seabirds, or by moving into novel habitats. Conversely there may be positive impacts associated with a reduction in accidental bycatch of seabirds attracted by discards to fishing gears and, in the long-term, a return to a more 'natural' seabird community. Our study also highlights that despite many years of research, we still have a great deal to learn about how seabirds will respond to changes in the marine environment -- we need a coordinated effort between conservation agencies and scientists to plug these important knowledge gaps."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by British Ecological Society (BES). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anthony W. J. Bicknell, Daniel Oro, Kees Camphuysen, Stephen C. Votier. Potential consequences of discard reform for seabird communities. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2013

Cite This Page:

British Ecological Society (BES). "Seabirds need effective marine conservation in wake of discard ban, warns study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321205419.htm>.
British Ecological Society (BES). (2013, March 22). Seabirds need effective marine conservation in wake of discard ban, warns study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321205419.htm
British Ecological Society (BES). "Seabirds need effective marine conservation in wake of discard ban, warns study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321205419.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A 19-year-old computer science student has been arrested in relation to a data breach of 900 social insurance numbers from Canada's revenue agency. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) According to SEC filings, Yahoo gave ousted COO Henrique de Castro a $58 million severance package. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins