Animals: The cormorant is now a concern for federal politics

Animals: The cormorant is now a concern for federal politics
Animals: The cormorant is now a concern for federal politics

Whether on Lake Constance or on the Baltic Sea: the fronts surrounding a dark hunting bird are hardened. Now the fish-eating cormorant is to be debated in the Bundestag.

The cormorant, which is notorious for being a fish predator, is becoming an issue for politicians in the Bundestag. At the request of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, a public hearing will be held this Wednesday in the Bundestag Committee on the Environment, at which the head of the Fisheries Research Institute, Alexander Brinker, will also speak.

Comprehensive cormorant management is required to stop the protected hunting bird. Parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz and CSU colleague Alexander Dobrindt are behind the proposal. However, the initiative comes from Lake Constance.

Loss of catch for fishermen on Lake Constance

“The cormorant is no longer an endangered species in this country,” explained the initiator, CDU member of the Bundestag Volker Mayer-Lay, who comes from Überlingen on Lake Constance. The bird has increased rapidly in number in recent years and has become a nationwide nuisance.

Fishermen on Lake Constance are complaining about a drop in catches. Pond farmers and restaurateurs from his constituency on Lake Constance have also drawn his attention to the problem. “I took their request for help as an opportunity to take the initiative at the federal level.”

According to experts, the dark migratory birds can eat a good half a kilo of fish a day. A so-called cormorant management plan that could apply around Lake Constance has long been discussed. How exactly the bird is to be stopped is still not clear, even after a dialogue process lasting almost a year with 70 individual discussions, four all-day forums and more than 80 consensus statements.

Baltic Sea fishermen also dissatisfied

The cormorant is not only an issue in southern Germany. The FDP tried it in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania at the beginning of this year. The inland fishermen’s association also brought up the idea of ​​a shooting bonus there. “We have the somewhat absurd situation that more cod are now being eaten by cormorants in the Baltic Sea than are being caught by professional fishermen,” reported the President of the German Fisheries Association, Gero Hocker, on the sidelines of the German Fisheries Day last autumn.

The problem: The hunting bird is a species protected throughout the EU. But the number of cormorants continues to rise, according to the Baden-Württemberg Fisheries Research Centre.

What conservationists say

Conservationists are against systematic shooting or other deterrent measures. A reduction in the population would not benefit the fishermen, but would only harm the birds, said Eberhard Klein from the NABU in Konstanz. There is already a cormorant management system in place, and the game birds have been shot on Lake Constance for more than 20 years.

“As we can see from the complaints of the fishermen, it’s no use,” he stressed. The fishermen and the fish are still doing badly. The cormorant is only a very small factor. The warming of the water and immigrant species are mainly responsible. “Shooting cormorants will not change anything,” said Klein.

Drone defense?

Another idea is so-called breeding management. Drones could fly to the nests in the areas where the birds breed in the treetops and spray the eggs with oil to prevent them from hatching. This is a proven method in other countries and only a small intervention in nature, experts explained. There are also suggestions to replace the real eggs with plaster eggs. Pilot tests are to be carried out, according to the Ministry of the Environment.

Ultimately, it is a question of proportionality, said Bundestag member Mayer-Lay. The continued protection status of the water bird is outdated given the current population of more than 20,000 breeding pairs in Germany.

Source: Stern

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