Saturday 27 July 2019 | 73

The cry of the cormorants? Must be urgently answered!

One Voice calls for action: a public consultation is launched around a ministerial decree opening the door to a mass killing of great cormorants (150 000 birds over a three-year period). The reason? To protect fish farms and river fish from this protected natural predator. Completely mind-blowing!

Hr blog

All agree that the shots of "destruction" cannot regulate a population of breeding birds, especially in accordance with the precise levels of the department. But here we are: by a prefectural decision, these big cormorants, birds protected by the law and by a European directive, are declared huntable by departmental quotas because they extensively harm the pisciculture farms and even certain species of wild river fish, also protected and especially coveted by fishing companies.

The State and its local agents, the Prefects, are diligently responding to the wishes of an economic sector that does not take the time to find alternative methods: No less than half of the large cormorants wintering in France are affected by the planned destruction by shooting in 88 metropolitan departments. 50,000 birds per year…

Deadly and unjustified decree

A similar decree framework has already been taken on in 2016 for the last three years, in the same proportions and at the time could not be thwarted by the mobilization of citizens. This new public consultation, open until July 31st (go quickly and give your opinion using the arguments already cited in this article !), It’s the opportunity to say no, and to say that the solution does not lie in mass shootings of "Destruction". What's even crueller, is that these protected birds are fired at with light cartridges which are regulated: shot and injured, they often suffer in agony for hours!

The National Council for the Protection of Nature this time unanimously gave an unfavourable opinion to the renewal of a measure that only pleased a few economic actors, and of course the fishermen and hunters. All these arguments did not make the ministry retreat:

  • shooting is ineffective in controlling overwintering populations in each department;

  • It has not been demonstrated that these shootings can reduce the predation levels of these piscivorous birds, especially in open waters where the protection of fish depends on several other factors (predation by other animals, including types of catfish, quality of the water, etc.); in addition, cormorants feed mainly on abundant prey such as cyprinids or even exotic species (catfish and perch);

  • The large cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) targeted by the decree are very similar to another subspecies of cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), whose populations In France are unstable. It will be difficult for hunters to judge between killing the "right" birds;

  • The exact justification for requesting open water shooting has not been made, nor do the pond farmers produce any departmental economic statistics on the impact of this type of predation from the Great Cormorants who winter in France.

As in other cases, the only response here would be through destruction to protect an economic activity in a natural environment that a bird cannot understand. Of course, French fish farming is going through a difficult time in competition with other countries that are curiously not experiencing the same problem. They are struggling trying to make a profit and when it is declared impossible to equip whole hectares of ponds with systems to scare off or to protect (via netting), scapegoats are quickly found. All animals like this are declared harmful because of their survival and their dependence on the type of prey available. However, regulations require us to look for alternative solutions before drawing and aiming rifles against wildlife…

Pack it in and protect your farms !

Last February, a fish farmer from the department Deux-Sèvres sued the state for the damage suffered by its exploitation since the arrival of cormorants on the property. The man, who can not invest the estimated 500,000 euros to effectively protect his pond, has still obtained 800 € compensation per hectare per year over the period from 2010 to 2015, a total of € 160,000. "Being located in a natural area of ecological, faunistic and floristic interest, I can not even destroy the nests", he deplores, reserving the right to bring a new legal procedure for the period 2016-2020, if the State, with consequently our taxes, can not find a solution to its problem.

But slaughtering these birds is not a solution. Exercise more regular monitoring, protect the ponds ... Of course, it is expensive, like working differently with better quality water, controlling the effluents of agriculture. But is this not the job of professionals, improving and tracing their production? No, instead of this, and despite of the help available in Europe, it is preferable to incriminate the so called "pests", all those animals to whom not one has the right to life.

The great cormorant is the tree that hides the forest: there are many concerns regarding other fish-eating animals (herons, bitterns, kingfishers, storks, otters, mink…). Should we kill them all in the name of a scared economic activity ? What are the answers to the reasons why cormorants colonize ponds and rivers in France by leaving their typical habitat (the large estuaries, the coasts of the sea or the beds of the great rivers of Europe)? Will mass fire change anything ?

Finally, if we really wonder about the balance of natural populations in our ponds and rivers, the prey-predator relationship, why do we rather not ask the questions about the place of human fishing in so-called threatened environments ?

The fishermen are obviously mobilized in favour of this current situation. The number of comments requiring the eradication of these birds that deprive them of their catch is impressive. We must spread the word in these final days to massively oppose this killing. Act now !

Anyway, if the mobilization fails to stop the ecological slaughter that is being prepared, we will attack the ministerial decree in court so we can restore the rights of these large birds, remember they are protected. Such exceptions to their protection are unjustifiable !

Frédéric Rideau
Hr blog

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Comments 73

I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.

Thamara | Friday 02 August 2019

Laissons ces bêtes - et toutes les autres - en paix...

lapointe | Friday 02 August 2019

stop au massacre de tout ce qui bouge. Ras-le-bol

Joey | Friday 02 August 2019

Arrêtez de massacrer le vivant! La population n'en peut plus de ce carnage et cet entêtement à tuer et détruire la nature, notre mère à tous: ceci est un crime contre l'humanité

Claudie | Friday 02 August 2019

Stop au massacre des cormorans