Adriatic Seabird Guardians

Timeframe: 2019 - 2021
Country/Region: Croatia
Partner: Association Biom – Birdlife in Croatia

Seabirds are present in all marine ecosystems and oceans of the world. They are now under threat, partly due to pollution, bycatch, climate change, and rat predation. These factors are all creating multiple challenges for species survival.

This project implemented by Association Biom and supported by Fondation Segré aims to carry out concrete conservation actions in order to preserve the Yelkouan Shearwater, the Scopoli’s Shearwater and the Audouin’s Gull on the remote archipelago in the southern Adriatic Sea – Lastovo islands, located halfway between Croatia and Italy.

They face direct threats such as rat predation during the nesting season and bycatch i.e. the birds get caught on baited hooks of demersal longline fishing gear. For both Shearwater species rat predation on chicks has been recorded in the area, whereas for the Audoin’s Gull rat predation is considered as potential threat. Shearwaters are long-living species with low reproductive output, they lay only one egg per breeding season. Adult survival is crucial for maintaining stable population numbers, but on the long-term high mortality of chicks will eventually lead to the decrease of population size and to local extinctions of breeding colonies.

The priority actions needed involve:

  • Increase the reproductive output of the Scopolis and Yelkouan shearwater by 20% and increase the number of breeding pairs by 10%.
  • Complete eradication of rats and removal of cats on islets of the Lastovo archipelago.
  • Reduce the level of seabird bycatch in longline fishery in Croatia by equipping more fishing vessels with bird friendly fishing gear.
  • Raise awareness of local community on the importance of conservation, quantify and reduce the impact of marine litter by cleaning beaches on Lastovo archipelago and setting up marine litter monitoring system.