SIMARINE-NATURA - Preparatory inventory and activities for the designation of marine IBA and SPA site for Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii in Slovenia

LIFE10 NAT/SI/000141

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Contact details:

Contact person: Urša KOCE
Tel: +386 1 426 5875
Email: ursa.koce@dopps.si

Project description:


The Slovenian sea is home to a significant portion (11.4 % or around 2 000 individuals in the non-breeding period) of the biogeographical population of the Mediterranean shag (Phalacrocora x aristotelis desmarestii). Other seabirds, such as the Mediterranean shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) and Mediterranean gull (Larus melanocephalus) can also be found here in populations of up to 1 000 individuals, or 1% or more of their biogeographical population. Because of this, the area deserves special conservation attention.

The area’s lack of any legal conservation status, however, posed a major threat to the favourable conservation status of a significant part of the Mediterranean shag population. According to the relevant EU and BirdLife International guidelines, knowledge of the distribution, population densities, flight routes and seasonal dynamics of the Mediterranean shag was required in order to identify a new Slovenian marine Important Bird Area/Special Protection Area (IBA/SPA). The overall conservation status of the seabird species in Slovenia also needed to be improved.


The SIMARINE-NATURA project aimed to significantly improve knowledge of the distribution, population densities, flight routes and seasonal dynamics of the Mediterranean shag in Slovenia in order to identify a new marine IBA. It also aimed to improve protection of the local population of the Mediterranean shag from accidental oil spills, by preparing expert guidelines. The project aimed to establish a coordinated management approach among the many stakeholders in the busy Gulf of Trieste, where there was a high possibility of uncontrolled activities that could significantly harm the shag population and its habitat. It also sought to raise public awareness about the conservation status of the Mediterranean shag and other important marine species in the future marine IBA/SPA.


The SIMARINE-NATURA project achieved most of its objectives. It significantly improved knowledge about the population status, diet and behaviour of the Mediterranean shag in Slovenia. This knowledge, gained through innovative monitoring tools, is now contributing to the conservation of the seabird species in three newly-designated Slovenian coastal SPAs and one marine SPA, the latter awaiting approval by the government. Conservation of the shags has also been incorporated into the management plans of two coastal nature parks (Strunjan and Sečoveljske soline). Dissemination and awareness raising about the seabird was also successful. Importantly, contrary to public opinion locally, research revealed there were no conflicts between conservation of the Mediterranean shag and the local fishery and mariculture sectors.

The new site- designations for the Mediterranean shag in Slovenia will facilitate the conservation of the wider coastal environment and will help prevent activities that are harmful for the coastal ecosystem e.g. mitigation of potential oil-spills impacts through guidelines for action in the event of accidental oil spills and occurrence of oiled marine fauna.

As well as concrete environmental benefits for the target seabird species, the project is expected to yield other long-term benefits for the marine environment including: preserved marine biodiversity; healthy and functioning food webs; restored sea floor integrity; elimination of marine litter; and healthy populations of commercial and non-commercial fish.

The project’s outputs have important policy implications in relation to the EU Marine Strategy Framework (MSF), Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – fisheries management, and Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and the conservation measures comply with specific environmental legislation, notably the Birds- and Marine Strategy Framework directives. A particularly innovative aspect was the development of a new method for catching shags at sea, as there were no previous cases of their successful trapping outside of their breeding colonies. These traps apparently worked well, although there were some limitations regarding their locations. Also successful, and not previously tested on the shags, was the project’s GPS tracking of individual birds using a GSM signal (by a mobile operator). This aspect has a high demonstration value: It showed a) the Mediterranean shags don’t compete for food with local fishermen (as occurs with other seabird species), as they only feed on small benthic fish with no commercial value; and b) cause no harm i.e. don’t negatively influence mariculture when they use buoys and other floating objects as part of their roosting habitat.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Birds


marine ecosystem‚  migratory species‚  monitoring‚  coastal area

Target EU Legislation

  • Marine environment and Coasts
  • Directive 2008/56 - Framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (M ...
  • Directive 2014/89 - A framework for maritime spatial planning (23.07.2014)
  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 2009/147 - Conservation of wild birds - Birds Directive (codified version of Directive ...
  • Marine environment and Coasts
  • Recommendation 2002/413 EC - "Implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe" (30 ...

Target species

 Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii     

Natura 2000 sites

SPA SI5000018 Sečoveljske soline
SCI SI3000238 Strunjanske soline s Stjužo
SCI SI3000239 Kanal Sv. Jerneja
SCI SI3000240 Sečoveljske soline in estuarij Dragonje
SCI SI3000241 Ankaran - Sv. Nikolaj
SCI SI3000243 Debeli Rtič
SCI SI3000247 Piranski klif
SCI SI3000249 Med Izolo in Strunjanom - klif
SCI SI3000251 Žusterna - rastišče pozejdonke



Coordinator DOPPS – BirdLife Slovenia (Društvoza opazovanje in proucevanje pticSlovenije)
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description DOPPS (Društvo za opazovanje in proučevanje ptic Slovenije) – BirdLife Slovenia is a national, non-profit conservation NGO, founded in 1979 and with approx. 1 000 members from all over Slovenia. It aims to protect birds and their habitats through conservation work, research, education, the promotion of bird watching and nature conservation. To achieve this goal, it actively cooperates with other NGOs, the business sector and government bodies. DOPPS is the partner of BirdLife International in Slovenia. DOPPS’s expert and research work was crucial in the process of identifying the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Slovenia, using the BirdLife methodology. The organisation has also been actively involved in a number of projects and activities aimed at implementing the conservation objectives of Natura 2000 network: it has carried out detailed studies of Natura 2000 sites; monitored selected species in SPAs and species of conservation concern; carried out ecological research, conservation fieldwork and reserve management; implemented educational activities; and promoted the network. DOPPS has already implemented two LIFE Nature projects, as well as an international project financed by the EU Structural Funds, among other sources.
Partners Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning of the Republic of Slovenia Javni zavod Krajinski park Strunjan, Slovenia


Project reference LIFE10 NAT/SI/000141
Duration 01-SEP-2011 to 31-MAY -2016
Total budget 474,458.00 €
EU contribution 284,675.00 €
Project location Osrednjeslovenska(Slovenia Slovenija)


Read more:

Leaflet "Il Marangone dal ciuffo (Phalacrocorax aristoteli ...
Leaflet "Sredozemski vranjek v slovenskem morju" (2.12 MB)
Leaflet "The Mediterranean Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis ...
Poster "Morje si delimo tudi s pticami: Morska obmocja Na ...
Poster "Tudi ptice letujejo na slovenski obali = Anche L' ...
Project web site Project's website
Publication After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan Layman report (English version)
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Smernice za upravljanje morskih območij IBA / Nat ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Varstvo sredozemskega vranjeka in drugih morskih ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report (Slovenian version)
Publication: Pedagogical tool "Vranjek Ari in njegovo prvo potovanje" (18.6 MB)
Publication: Pedagogical tool "Il marangone dal ciuffo Ari ed il suo primo viagg ...
Publication: Pedagogical tool "The First Journey of Ari the Mediterranean Shag" ...
Publication: Research findings "Protokol A.1-1: Monitoring sredozemskega vranjeka ...
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Publication: Technical report "Project SIMARINE-NATURA (LIFE10 NAT/SI/141): Acti ...
Video link "The Mediterranean Shag" (13.5')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version