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Background and Activities

The Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is protected under Directive 79/409/EEC (the Birds Directive). It is not a huntable species (it is not on Annex II of the Birds Directive). Its deliberate capture and killing, disturbance, destruction of its nests or taking of its eggs can only be allowed by Member States if this is done in accordance with the derogation system set out in Article 9 of the Directive.

In most European regions, increasing populations of the Great Cormorant, in particular of the continental race or subspecies Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis, are putting pressure on fisheries, aquaculture and angling activities, thus creating various types of social or socioeconomic conflicts.





On 4 December 2008, echoing concerns from the various social sectors affected, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution (doc ref. SP(2009)401) on the adoption of a European Cormorant Management Plan to minimise the increasing impact of cormorants on fish stocks, fishing and aquaculture. However, the European Commission does not consider that an EU-wide management plan would be an appropriate measure to address this problem under the present circumstances (see doc ref. SP(2009)401 here).

Nevertheless, the European Commission does take the issue seriously and, in this context, as preliminary actions, the Commission has been actively engaged in seeking the views of Member States and stakeholders. After an initial exchange of views with Member States, a consultation meeting on the interaction between cormorants and fisheries was held in Brussels on 31 March 2009. The participants included representatives of the Member States authorities, fisheries, aquaculture and angling, and conservation communities from many Member States.


On the basis of the concerns from the various social and economic sectors affected, the European Parliament requested that the European Commission took action to minimise the impact of cormorants on fish fauna, commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture in Europe.

Actions and the CorMan project

To meet the requests from the European Parliament the Commission engaged in two lines of actions:
  • It has developed a non-binding guidance document that explores the possibilities provided by Article 9 of the EU Birds Directive regarding its application. This document is available here
  • It hired a contractor (a) to disseminate relevant information about cormorants through the present website, and (b) to organise counts of cormorants in Europe during breeding and in winter.

The contractor responsible for developing the present EU Cormorant Platform and for organising the Pan-European counts of cormorants undertake this work within a project entitled ‘Sustainable Management of Cormorant Populations’ and the acronym ‘CorMan’.

The contractor, consisting of Aarhus University in Denmark and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in the United Kingdom, initiated the project in 2011. To achieve project success these two institutions formed a consortium and hired six sub-contractors with complimentary expertise on cormorants and cormorant-fish-fisheries interactions. The consortium also established a Stakeholders’ Liaison Group in order to connect selected European stakeholders to the project (for more information see Stakeholders). Furthermore, a partnership was formed with IUCN/Wetlands International Cormorant Research Group to ensure the use of appropriate counting methods and collaboration with a large number of volunteer counters throughout Europe.