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Handbook on oil impact assessment


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THE IMPACT OF OIL SPILLS ON SEABIRDS HANDBOOK DOCUMENTS



Introduction

Rationale

Preparedness

Biological advice

Impact assessment

library

web links

technical documents

shopping lists

HANDBOOK ON OIL IMPACT ASSESSMENT

4.0 SPILL RESPONSE

4.2 Biological advice

Technical document

Western Mediterranean

 data deficient




  • Countries involved: United Kingdom (Gibraltar), Spain, France, Italy, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco

  • Seabirds in the area: breeding Shag and gulls (e.g. Audouin’s Gull) and shearwaters (e.g. Balearic Shearwater), important numbers of gulls, wintering auks, cormorants, gannets; precise numbers and distribution patterns known for some.

  • Species of particular conservation concern: Audouin’s Gull, Balearic Shearwater, Yelkouan Shearwater, Mediterranean Shag, Mediterranean Storm Petrel, Cory’s Shearwater

  • Standardised studies of seabirds at sea: Recent studies of the offshore distribution of seabirds currently under way (SEO, data loggers, aerial surveys and ship-based surveys; no results published yet), some distributional data from observations at offshore stations and from ecological seabird studies (Arcos & Oro 1996, Abelló & Oro 1998)

  • OVI evaluation and area sensitivity: analysis never undertaken

  • Anticipated sensitivity to chronic oil pollution: several rarer species of seabirds in lower vulnerability categories in the area, offshore distribution patterns not clear


Globally threatened species:

Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris [Vulnerable]. This species appears to have suffered a rapid population decline, evidenced in its core wintering range, as a result of widespread and extensive habitat destruction. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable. However, data are scarce and some birds may have relocated to alternative wintering sites. Apparent increases in the western Mediterranean population probably reflect improved observer coverage rather than genuine changes. This population has suffered a long-term decline and widespread loss of habitat. Has a fragmented distribution in the western Mediterranean (Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, wintering in north and sub-Saharan west Africa). Prior to 1991, the estimated world population was 34,000-40,000 birds. Although count data are poor, a more recent estimate of 14,000-26,000 birds indicates a rapid population decline. Estimates of a wintering population of 3000 birds in 1997 and a count of 4250 in Tunisia in 1999, suggest the western Mediterranean population is larger than previously thought (BirdLife International 2007a).

Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus [Critically endangered]. This species has a tiny breeding range and a small population that is undergoing an extremely rapid population decline due to a number of threats, in particular predation at breeding colonies by introduced cats, and by-catch of foraging birds by long-line fisheries. Population models predict a decline of 98% within 54 years (three generations). It qualifies as Critically Endangered because of the very severe nature of these declines (BirdLife International 2007b). Breeding range (<100 km²) confined to the Balearic Islands (Spain; as few as 1650 pairs; Burfield & Van Bommel 2004).
Species of particular conservation concern:
Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris [diomedea] diomedea. This subspecies is endemic for the Mediterranean region, but the species has a large range, with an estimated global breeding Extent of Occurrence of 50,000-100,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 600,000 individuals (Brooke 2004a). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the shearwater has been extensively harvested in the past. However, the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern (BirdLife International 2007c). Within Europe, the subspecies has declined in a number of colonies (SPEC Category 2, status (Vulnerable); del Nevo 1994b, Burfield & Van Bommel 2004).

European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus has a large global population estimated to be 840,000 individuals (Fishpool & Evans 2001). About 90% of the known breeding population is concentrated in NW Europe, with smaller colonies elsewhere including Italy (1500-2000p) and Malta (5000p), Spain (1700-2000p). This species has a large range, with an estimated global breeding Extent of Occurrence of 50,000-100,000 km2. It nests on remote islands that are largely free of mammalian predators. The accidental introduction of such predators is the main threat to this species in southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The species winters off western and southern Africa. Although global population trends have not been quantified, there have been small population declines in Malta, Spain and France, but trend information is poor. Despite the evidence of a population decline, the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern (BirdLife International 2007d).

References

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BirdLife International 2007c. Species factsheet: Calonectris diomedea. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/10/2007

BirdLife International 2007d. Species factsheet: Hydrobates pelagicus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/10/2007

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WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN – HANDBOOK ON OIL SPILL IMPACT ASSESSMENT


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