Dilemmas

Cormorant colonies          


Model stories cormorant colonies

Cormorant colonies

For some time, there has been a rapid increase in the number of cormorants in the river valley of a small town, where a large part of the population is engaged in fishing. This is not an isolated case.

In recent decades, the newly arrived great cormorant, a species of fish-eating bird, has been actively spreading in the basins of big rivers in Ukraine. Originally settling in isolated pairs, numbers then increase rapidly until the birds form large colonies that disrupt the balance of the indigenous ecosystems and cause conflicts with the interests of local fishermen.

Local residents have to deal with this new problem, but opinions differ as to what should be done.

Negative

Conflicting interests
  • The great cormorant is a fish-eating bird that can have a significant impact on fish stocks in the water body where it lives and hunts. At the same time, it can push out native species, such as herons. Left to breed on a massive scale, it disturbs the balance of water and wetland ecosystems.
  • Fishermen regard the great cormorant as a direct competitor, and even as an adversary, and try to prevent it from spreading (by shooting or scaring the birds or destroying their nests, for example).
  • Environmentalists are concerned about the invasion of the new species, which can destroy the balance in natural communities, leading to the loss of biodiversity.
Positive

Possible solutions
  • The reasons for the rapid spread of the great cormorant in new territories should be examined in order to identify environmental leverages that can affect its numbers.
  • The great cormorant population can be artificially regulated as an invasive species and a pest through the intensive hunting of adult birds and the systematic destruction of nests in mass breeding sites.
  • The birds could be allowed to nest without limitation in nature reserves, and their numbers minimised where commercial fishing takes place.

Varying viewpoints


Fishermen
Fishermen prefer not to wait for scientific findings or legal procedures in order to solve the problem. Whenever the opportunity arises, they try to eliminate cormorants using any available means.

Local authorities
The local authorities have not adopted a definitive position on this issue.

Environmentalists
Those involved in wildlife protection have a rather general idea of the impact of the great cormorant on the ecosystem and fishing business. They demand that a legal framework be adopted to solve the problem, although at the same time they express contradictory views.

Experts
Although environmental scientists are concerned about the appearance of the new species, which can affect local biodiversity (birds and fish), they consider the physical elimination of the great cormorant to be economically inefficient and inhumane. They advocate looking for environmental solutions to the problem. They are convinced that the damage caused to the fishing industry by the great cormorant is significantly exaggerated.