The main objective of INTERCAFE was to improve European scientific knowledge of cormorant-fisheries interactions in the contexts of the interdisciplinary management of human:wildlife conflicts and of sound policy formation, so as to inform policy decisions at local to international levels across Europe and to deliver a coordinated information exchange system and improved communication between all stakeholders. Project participants, covering 28 countries in Europe and beyond, ultimately created a coordinated research network and an information bank that could be used to develop long-term collaborative management solutions to pan-European cormorant conflicts.

INTERCAFE was targeted towards the development of policy aimed at maintaining the favourable conservation status of Europe’s cormorant populations whilst enabling the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks in a wide variety of aquatic habitats. To achieve this goal, which requires considerable coordination and synthesis, three Working Groups were established. These Working Groups and their associated processed were integrated and designed to deliver a number of outputs.

line diagram showing the processes and outputs for INTERCAFE


Work Group 1: Ecological databases and analyses

Addressing the issues surrounding 'cormorant-fisheries conflict management' requires consideration not merely of technical solutions (i.e. site-specific actions and mitigation measures) but also of the ecology of cormorants at the continental level, particularly their temporal and spatial status and distribution and choice of breeding roosting and foraging sites. Analysis of these data at the continental scale in relation to ecological characteristics (e.g. geographical, climatological, biological – size, nutrient status, fish communities etc.) through a Geographic Information System provided better understanding of current cormorant distribution across Europe and could also allow predictions of their future distribution.

Cormorant population models are required to predict both the ultimate size of the European cormorant population and the likely consequences of large-scale control activities. The predictive power of such models depends on the input of the most up to date information – both on bird status and distribution but also ecological habitat data. The data collected in WG1 on cormorant population status and distribution, and on the numbers of birds killed, provides just such input and should lead to improved predictive models. Importantly, this Work Group also collated information on lethal actions carried out against cormorants and worked to improve understanding of the migratory patterns of cormorants particularly during the winter.

Work Group 2: Conflict resolution and management

Due to the site-specific nature of cormorant-fisheries conflicts, conflict resolution and co-management actions must be assessed on a case-by case basis. Work Group 2 coordinated biological, social and economic assessments of actions and mitigation measures at local to national scales. Work Group 2 also examined the legal frameworks operating in relation to actions and mitigation measures (linked closely with Work Group 1) and tried to consider economic aspects for specific fisheries (which was highly dependent on relevant financial information being in the public domain).

The main objective of Work Group 2 was thus to conduct interdisciplinary research into site-specific actions and mitigation measures taken to manage cormorant-fisheries conflicts. Furthermore this research was also linked to legal frameworks and economies operating at regional to national scales. The research community, in collaboration with local stakeholders and policy makers, analysed and evaluated the success or failure of various actions and mitigation measures applied to cormorant-fisheries conflicts across Europe in relation to biological, social and economic factors.

Work Group 3: Linking science with policy and best practice

REDCAFE identified that research must first understand the true nature of cormorant-fisheries conflicts and then look to the most appropriate solutions. Importantly, in reaching such understandings, social, cultural, and economic issues were invariably just as important as ecological or biological ones. The overall aim of WG3 was thus to promote links between the biological and social science communities, local stakeholders, economists and policy advisors to better understand the role of socio-cultural issues in conflicts, their management within legal frameworks, and efforts towards their resolution. These links were forged through the interdisciplinary investigation of a series of conflict case studies chosen to be representative of cormorant-fisheries conflicts across Europe.

Case study selection was careful and took into account various factors: for example, geographic location, habitat types, stakeholder groups, fishery type, and current and potential mitigation actions. Case studies were investigated through Workshops that concentrated on issues operating at two spatial scales. First, local stakeholders provided key site-specific inputs providing ecological, social, economic and policy contexts. Second, input from other participants, particularly ecologists (for example, through direct input from WG1) and policy makers, enabled all to appreciate the specific case study in both national and international contexts. Thus, Workshops offered all participants an opportunity to take a ‘holistic’ view of specific case studies.

Planned Outputs

Outputs from INTERCAFE thus included:

  1. Databases detailing the size and location of both cormorant breeding colonies and winter roosts across Europe at the national level, and detailing the lethal management actions taken against cormorants at the regional level.
  2. Biological, social and economic assessments of the efficacy (and cost-effectiveness, where relevant data were available) of conflict resolution and management strategies through the interdisciplinary examination of site-specific, regional and national actions and mitigation measures taken to counter predation by cormorants.
  3. The promotion of links between the biological and social scientific communities, local stakeholders and policy advisors to better understand the role of socio-cultural issues in conflicts, their management within legal frameworks, and efforts towards their resolution. The development of a set of scientifically founded conflict management recommendations specifically aimed at improved policy formulation.

In addition, INTERCAFE included a number of sub-groups where researchers focused on a number of specific issues including Baltic Sea research, the ecology of Pygmy Cormorants (P. pygmeus), the production of a cormorant fieldwork manual, conflicts and mitigation at carp ponds, and potential sources of further/future research funding.

Full INTERCAFE Proposal