Bycatch is one of the most significant threats to seabirds globally. In European waters alone, at least 200,000 seabirds die caught in fishing gear, every year. The EU Action Plan for reducing the incidental catch of seabirds in fishing gears (EU-POA) adopted in 2012 had the objective to “minimise and, where possible, eliminate the incidental catches of seabirds, by EU vessels operating in EU and non-EU waters, as well as by non-EU vessels operating in EU waters”. But the lack of implementation has hindered progress, and seabird bycatch in the EU, and by EU vessels fishing outside EU waters, remains a pressing issue.
BirdLife’s analysis shows that of the 30 actions contained in the EU-POA, 19 have not been implemented, and a further eight have been only partially implemented, meaning that implementation is either completely missing or lacking for 90% of actions. In short, despite its ambitious objective the EU-POA has fallen a long way short.