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Marine birds in trouble


Marine birds are valuable indicators of ecosystem condition. OSPAR assesses the abundance and breeding success of marine birds.

In the Norwegian Arctic, the Greater North Sea and the Celtic Seas, there has been a considerable (>20%) drop in abundance compared to the levels observed 25 years ago, for more than a quarter of the marine bird species assessed. Frequent and widespread breeding failure has been observed for many species, especially those feeding on small fish in the surface waters of the Greater North Sea and Celtic Seas. Prey availability is likely to be driven by ecosystem-specific changes, possibly impacted by commercial fisheries and climate change.

In the last OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR 2010), OSPAR highlighted the occurrence of breeding failure in parts of the Greater North Sea and the Arctic, and stressed the need for research into links between environmental factors and the long-term health of marine bird populations.


Black-legged kittiwake and chicks (Darrel Birk)

OSPAR’s Objective

OSPAR’s strategic objective with respect to biodiversity and ecosystems is to halt and prevent by 2020 further loss of biodiversity in the OSPAR Maritime Area, to protect and conserve ecosystems and to restore, where practicable, marine areas which have been adversely affected.

Marine Strategy Framework Directive Descriptor

D1: Biological Diversity