The EU Birds Directive allows Member States to make derogations from its protective measures in respect of certain wild bird species in certain circumstances – for example, where they are causing damage to crops, livestock and fauna or represent a threat to public health or safety or to air safety. The Declarations to implement these derogations are renewed annually and an annual review of the Declarations is undertaken prior to their expiry.
The 2017 review took into account the issue of seagulls in the North Dublin area especially in Balbriggan which had been the subject of correspondence to my Department from some community groups and other residents which proposed the inclusion of seagull species in the Declaration.
Following consideration of the matter, the Declaration, which was effective from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2018, included methods to control seagull species in the Balbriggan area for public safety reasons. The control method involved the removal of eggs and nests only and the culling of seagulls was not permitted. Similar provision was made in the Declaration effective from 1 May 2018 to 30 April 2019.
My Department undertook a review of the derogation process under Article 9 of the EU Birds Directive which took account of all relevant factors, including perceived threats, distribution and population data available in respect of all the bird species in the derogations. ANIAR Ecology were appointed by my Department to undertake the review following a public tendering process. The final report of the consultants was published in October last year and is available on the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department at www.npws.ie.
One of the recommendations of the consultant’s report was the setting up of a group to agree a programme of action in relation to the seagull situation in the certain urban areas. I have agreed to the formation of a Consultative Committee, with an independent chair, whose membership will include representatives of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department, Fingal County Council, local community representatives and a conservation group. My Department is finalising the composition of the Committee with a view to convening the first meeting of the Committee shortly.