Seabirds and waterbirds

There are over 180 species of marine birds found throughout Europe's seas, and many of these undertake yearly migrations between feeding and breeding grounds. Waterbirds and seabirds provide a number of ecosystem services. For example, seabirds are ecologically important as nutrient recyclers and are also a main attraction for tourism through bird watching.

Photo: Little auks (Alle alle)

Source: © Tim Smith

Information on the health of marine birds at a regional scale is available for specific regions and species. By combining this information with case studies, it can tentatively be concluded that approximately one-third of marine bird populations are declining, one-third are stable and one-third are growing.

For some particular species, regional data indicate consistent population declines. For instance, breeding populations in the Celtic Sea and Greater North Sea are decreasing and have remained below baseline population targets since 2005.

Several pressures influence the marine seabirds and waterbirds, e.g. extraction of fish and shellfish, and marine litter.

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Relevant MSFD Descriptors

Descriptor 1. Biodiversity is maintained

 The quality and occurrence of habitats and the distribution and abundance of species are in line with prevailing physiographic, geographic and climatic conditions.