Fisheries Areas Network

Good Practice Project

Adapting fishing practices to protect seabirds

Through the MedAves Pesca project, the Oeste FLAG joined together with the Portuguese NGO SPEA to enable better communication and interaction with the fisheries sector. This joint project focused on adapting fisheries practices to avoid the death of seabirds while fishing in the Ilhas Berlengas area.


The project focused on the use of two specific methods to avoid accidentally catching and often killing seabirds, which can be a risk during fishing activities. One method, developed by the UK company FishTek, uses a small robust device incorporating LED lights which can be attached to ropes on fishing nets. The aim of the device is to alert seabirds to the presence of the nets by making them more visible underwater and to avoid entanglement.

The other method, created by SPEA (Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves), a bird protection NGO, mimics a bird of prey and is known as the ‘scary bird device’; it scares away protected seabirds from the fishing zone. Within the framework of the project, the NGO worked with a group of fishers to adapt and implement these changes in practice. They did this alongside raising the awareness of good practices such as what to do if a bird is found entangled in a fishing net.

To access funding under the UP1 of the EMFF within Portuguese Operational Programme on promoting environmentally sustainable fisheries, there needs to be collaboration with a fisher’s association or FLAG. For this, the Oeste FLAG worked as partner in the project as an intermediary between the NGO and the fishing community, involving not only the fishers carrying out the adapted fisheries practices, but also the wider community.

With this goal, the Oeste FLAG organised meetings with the two largest fisher's associations in the area to design the best materials to publicise the project and permanent exhibitions of the project at the two organisations facilities were created. The FLAG provided the contacts to SPEA to participate in large events such as the National Day of the Sea and several gastronomy fairs. The Oeste FLAG accompanied them to some of these activities and publicised the project during its own events. Thanks to the participation in these events, the NGO has been able to find new groups of fishermen interested in implementing these measures, during the project and also after it was completed.

  • 21 fishermen from five vessels who are testing the two developed measures.
  • 182 fishing trips during which the adaption measures to avoid the death of seabirds were tested; 48 fishing trips with a fishing observer onboard; and 134 fishing trips monitored by the captain´s boats.
  • Participation in three public events and three meetings with government entities where the project was presented.
  • Two meetings of the project partners with the local fisher´s associations in the Peniche area.
  • Development of communication products such as wall calendars, magnets, flags for boats and permanent interactive exhibitions for the local fisher´s associations in Peniche.
  • Publicity and dissemination activities including two press releases and an awareness campaign run during the National Day of the Sea in Portugal which resulted in around 60 fishers joining the project.

This project focused on adapting and implementing measures to understand the interaction of birds with fishing within a specific local area. Once tested and a methodology established, it could be rolled out at national level throughout Portugal. This is a process that could be replicated by FLAGs in other Member States where they could pilot initiatives in the local area that can then be scaled up to national level.

Lessons & contribution to CLLD objectives: 

Lessons: It was essential to involve the fishermen from the very beginning in the design of the project to guarantee its successful implementation. One of the key points was to ensure that there were enough resources for the dissemination actions. It was crucial to adapt the format of the communication activities to specifically target the fisheries communities as the project promotors wanted them to join the project and make a bigger impact.

Contribution to CLLD objective: (c) enhancing and capitalising on the environmental assets of the fisheries and aquaculture areas, including operations to mitigate climate change


FLAG grant €260 085
  • EMFF (UP1)
    195 064
    National Funds
    65 021

Project information

Timeframe of implementation From Jul 2018 to Jun 2020
Sea Basins
Type of area


Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves- SPEA

Contact details

FLAG Contacts

Mr. Rogério Cação
+351 262 787 959

Organisation Contacts

Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves- SPEA
Ms. Ana Almeida
+351.213 220 430
Publication date: 
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