A TEAM of experts is hoping to start a monitoring and conservation project for Europe’s most endangered seabird, thousands of which are known to gather near Jersey.
The National Trust for Jersey and the Birds on the Edge project hosted a workshop this week on the Balearic shearwater, attended by experts from the Channel Islands and France.
The initiative aims to improve understanding of the importance of the Channel Islands for the species by gathering data, producing management recommendations, and starting a collaborative project to co-ordinate monitoring and conservation.
There are 25,000 Balearic shearwaters in Europe, which makes it the continent’s most endangered seabird. At a global level it is classified as ‘critically endangered’.
Balearic shearwaters breed on the cliffs of the Balearic islands – Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera – but in summer, flocks travel north to the Channel Islands, gathering on the water in their thousands. Last year, one flock was tracked as close as Grosnez Point.
Cris Sellarés, from the Birds On The Edge project, said: ‘This is an exciting new partnership that will set the basis for future collaborations between the islands and France.
‘We need to look beyond what biodiversity we have on our individual islands and treat the sea as another key component of our shared natural heritage.
‘Visiting birds like the Balearic shearwater show us what potential the islands might hold for new species, as well as for species that we have only recently lost, such as the guillemot.’
One hope for the group is that they will establish a seabird reserve, as the Birds On The Edge project is proposing.
A participant at the workshop, Adrien Lambrechts, was involved in setting up the successful Tawharanui Reserve in New Zealand, and it is hoped this experience will help researchers establish a similar reserve in the Channel Islands.