The Vulnerable Yelkouan Shearwater gets an international study project in the Black Sea

The Black Sea Seabirds Project aims to create the basis for an inventory of Marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in the southern Black Sea for two seabird species: the Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan (a Mediterranean and Black Sea endemic species and a potential candidate for ACAP listing) and the European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii.  The project commenced in June 2012 with a meeting and press conference and was followed by a training workshop in November 2012, both held in Istanbul, Turkey.

The project is being coordinated and implemented by Doğa Derneği (BirdLife International designate partner in Turkey) in collaboration with three other BirdLife partners, the Hellenic Ornithological Society, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and the Romanian Ornithological Society.

"The Southern Black Sea coast holds internationally important populations of Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), and the Mediterranean sub-species of the European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii).  Puffinus yelkouan has recently been upgraded on the IUCN Red List to ‘Near Threatened'*.  These two species are listed as Annex 1 species under the EU Birds Directive.

"All European Union (EU) countries have an obligation to designate Marine Special Protection Areas (SPAs), under the Birds Directive, with the original deadline for designation of sites being 2008.  The EU member states and the European Commission agreed that if sites were not designated by the deadline, then by mid-2008 there should have been a clear identification of additional scientific work that would be required for full completion of the Marine Natura 2000 network and a clear time frame for how this would be achieved.

"The main objective of this project is to create the basis for an inventory of Marine IBAs for these and other species occurring in the southern Black Sea, thus allowing the Romanian and the Bulgarian governments to start fulfilling its [sic] European obligations for the creation of Marine SPAs, and the Turkish government to progress work as part of the accession negotiations.

Yelkouan Shearwater.  Photograph by Alex Olle

"The identification of Marine Important Bird Areas along the Southern Black Sea Coast would also contribute significant data and knowledge to the wider process of establishing and managing marine protected areas along the Black Sea Coast.

"The current project aims to train staff and volunteers from Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey on seabird research and conservation methods.  Intensive fieldwork will also be undertaken to ascertain key feeding and rafting areas for Yelkouan Shearwaters and Shag, and all the Shag colonies in Turkey and Bulgaria will be surveyed, so that Marine Important Bird Areas around the most important colonies be mapped and characterized, according to the established Marine IBA methods and criteria.  Training on methods to identify Marine IBAs and on designating Marine SPAs will also be given."

Click here to access a progress report on the Black Sea Seabirds Project.

Click here for information on the Yelkouan Shearwater and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats of 1979 (the Bern Convention).

*Now categorized as Vulnerable.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 1 February 2013

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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