Marine Natura 2000 Progress Assessment: Protection of marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (mIBAs), and sites at sea for seabirds
The marine Natura 2000 network provides Member States with a legislative tool to protect our marine biodiversity, however many countries have been extremely slow at designating protected areas for seabirds, especially at sea. The lack of progress in completing the network means that seabirds are not being properly safeguarded, and are facing threats such as by-catch by fishing vessels, prey depletion or disturbance at their breeding colonies. There remains, therefore, an urgent need for countries to identify and designate sites at sea to ensure that seabirds are protected.
Within the EU, the BirdLife Partnership has been at the forefront of site identification for seabirds. Using cutting edge science and rigorous scientific criteria, BirdLife has identified Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (marine IBAs) recognised as a ‘shadow list’ of sites for Natura 2000 designation.
This report represents the most accurate assessment of seabird protection in the European Union. We have assessed the 23 coastal EU states based on the level of protection afforded to marine IBAs through EU Special Protected Areas (terrestrial, inshore and offshore waters).
This report demonstrates that:
- Only 59% of the area identified as marine IBAs is currently protected in the EU, and many countries are still lagging behind in identifying areas at sea.
- Scandinavian and Baltic countries are leading the way for at sea protection, with significant areas at sea protected in Germany, Poland, Estonia and Denmark and progress being made in Latvia, Lithuania and Finland.
- Coastal extension areas have not yet been designated in many countries, such as in France, the UK , Ireland and Sweden.
- 2/3 of EU countries only protect 3% or less of their Marine Area (territorial sea & Exclusive Economic Zone).
- Urgent action is required in those countries where marine IBAs inventories have been rigorously identified but where Member States have failed to designate them as SPAs.
- A large proportion of marine SPAs are currently lacking management plans, which urgently need to be drawn up and implemented.