Inter-regional cooperation on marine birds moves ahead this week as the first meeting of the new joint working group on marine birds is convened in Copenhagen. The group consists of concerned representatives from the two neighbouring Regional Sea Conventions, and , as well as of experts from International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (). The meeting will discuss how to assess the status of bird populations in the Baltic Sea and the North East Atlantic and how to handle different threats to the birds stemming from human activities.Marine birds are sensitive to environmental changes thus considered as good indicator species for evaluation the status of the environment. Photo: Elena Bulycheva.Experts are joining forces since marine birds fly back and forth over the borders between the conventions covering the Baltic Sea and the North East Atlantic. The highly mobile species require inter-regional coordination to ensure that best available information is used for ensuring efficient and sufficient protection of the species. Marine birds are sensitive to changes in the environment and are considered as good indicator species for evaluation the status of the environment in both conventions. By joining forces in the continued development of environmental core indicators, HELCOM and OSPAR will explore synergies that will ensure support also for the ongoing pan-European assessment processes. The meeting will update the HELCOM core indicators for the abundance of both wintering and breeding birds to evaluate how much progress has been made in the region in achieving a good environmental status.Human pressures threatening the marine bird populations include alterations to birds’ migration routes, important feeding and breeding areas being affected by windfarms, as well as birds drowning in fishing gear. The meeting will consider the latest available knowledge on seabird ecology related to windfarms that can be used in the upcoming management work. Moreover, birds drowning in fishing gear as incidental catch is known to be a severe problem for some species, however very little data are currently available. The meeting will discuss how data could be effectively gathered based on common fisheries policy landing obligations so that fishing practices in the future could be changed to better protect marine birds. * * * Note for editorsThe Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention. * * * For more information, please contact:Lena Avellan Project Manager HELCOM Tel: +358 40 162 2054 Skype: helcom35 E-mail: lena.avellan(at)helcom.fi Johanna Laurila Information Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988 Skype: helcom70 E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi
Neighbouring Regional Seas Conventions HELCOM and OSPAR together with ICES establish a joint working group on marine birds.