Hellenic Ornithological Society, photo: I.Foufopoulos
Measures against accidental trapping of seabirds in fishing gear

Seabirds feeding on fisheries discardFor hundreds of years fishermen and seabirds have been sharing the sea, as collaborators, rather than competitors. However, the introduction of modern fishing gear and practices, and their increasing use has disturbed this balance at the expense of seabirds. Seabird mortality by accidental trapping in fishing gear (seabird bycatch) is a worldwide phenomenon which has been identified to be among the major threats to seabirds together with overfishing and degradation of marine habitats.

Mediterranean ShagThe Aegean and Ionian Sea, as the rest of the Mediterranean Sea, are no exception in this matter. In Greece, all seabird species including those of conservation concern, such as the Mediterranean Shag and the Audouin’s Gull, are victims of seabird bycatch. Although the problem is well known in Greece, up until present LIFE project, no systematic assessment of bycatch has been carried out, meaning that the extent of accidental trapping of seabirds in the fishing gear, and therefore its impact on the national populations of seabirds species have not been yet determined.

 Yelkouan Shearwater caughtAn Audouin’s Gull victim of longline fisherieTherefore, the present LIFE project is aiming to assess the extent of seabird bycatch, as well as its temporal and spatial variations in the wider marine areas of the project sites in the Ionian and Aegean Sea by means of on-board observations andquestionnaires, to fishermen.

The collaboration with fishermen is vital for reducing seabird bycatch Recording of seabird bycatch in the Ionian Sea

This information will be evaluated in order to determine the main factors affecting seabird bycatch and to propose, in collaboration with fishermen, alternative fishing gear and practices that reduce the risk of seabird bycatch. For this purpose, a series of meetings with fishermen and an information dissemination campaign will be carried out.


The collection of data for the assessment of seabird bycatch is being implemented by the TEI of Ionian islands in the Ionian Sea and by the HCMR in collaboration with HOS and MOm in the Aegean Sea.

Observation on board of vessels of large pelagic fishery during 2009
active fishing days by area Fishing effort (in hooks) per area
active fishing days by area. (Small ring represents one fishing day)/ HCMR Fishing effort (in hooks) per area ((Small ring represents 500 hooks))/ ΕΛΚΕΘΕ

Until the summer of 2010, 127 fishing trips with on-board observers have been carried out in all major fishing areas of the Aegean and Ionian Sea.

Additional information is being collected through questionnaires for fishermen (pdf Διαβάστε εδώ το pdf)

Preliminary results of seabird bycatch assessment in the Ionian Sea, presented at the 3rd International Eurasian Ornithology Congress –Mytilini-Greece, April 2010.

Παρουσίαση πόστερ - Γίωργος Καρρής


Θαλασσοκόρακας & Αιγαιόγλαρος

take part in the Greek seabird population census

 Identify six seabirds at a glance!

Dark coloured, long necked and short tail

Mediterranean Shag: rounded crown, steep forehead, slender bill, thin straight neck.

Dark coloured, long wings, just above the water

Cory’s Shearwater: brown above, white below, long glides.
Mediterranean Shearwater: dark above, light below, quick wingbeats. Usually in flocks.

White coloured gull, with long wings 

Yellow-legged Gull: light-coloured bill, eyes and legs. Dark grey mantle with white edge, and black wing tips, with large white spots. Yellow bill. Most common gull.
Audouin’s Gull: dark-coloured bill, eye and legs. Light grey mantle without obvious white edge and black wing tips, with small white spots. Red bill. Typically observed close to islands and small islets.

Tiny, black, just above the water

Storm-petrel: very small, white rump like a swallow. Very rare

LIFE Natura 2000

LIFE07 NAT/GR/000285
Concrete conservation actions for the Mediterranean Shag and Audouin's Gull in Greece, including the inventory of relevant marine IBAs

The project is implemented by the Hellenic Ornithological Society, in collaboration with the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (ΜΟm), the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), the Technological Institution (TEI) of Ionian Islands and the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), with the financial support of the European Commission and the co-financing of the A.G. Leventis Foundation.
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Last update: October 16, 2012

Coordinating beneficiary

Associated beneficiaries



Hellenic Ornithological Society Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (ΜΟm) Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) Technological Institution (TEI) of Ionian Islands Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) A.G. Leventis Foundation
attica group superfast ferries blue star ferries Anek Superfast ANEK
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