Invasive Alien Species in Europe and Beyond - meeting of the Bern Convention in Slovenia, June 2015
Recommendation No. 166 (2013) on the European Code of Conduct on Hunting and Invasive Alien Species (including the IAF section) has been officially adopted by the European Commission, as we knew it would be since Strasbourg in December. It was minuted that the principles and recommendations made by the Bern Convention are now being adopted globally and have been presented for adaption in Canada. IAF is sometimes criticised as being Eurocentric, This wider adoption of a piece of legistalion that began in Europe is proof that IAF's vigilance in Europe is justified..
Adoption of the Code of Conduct does not mean it is a law, but it is now an official EU policy and whenever a member state makes its own laws on IAS, this recommendation will be the one they have to consult on hunting/falconry issues.
Developments in IAS: Various countries presented the work they have done so far – Slovenia, UK, Estonia, Poland, Czech Rep., Armenia, Sweden, Norway, Macronesia etc. none of which mentioned birds of prey, but some were a little over the top in their individual legislating. This is something IAF cannot do anything about, we are doing absolutely everything we can in monitoring at a European level and in intervening where appropriate to encourage positive (or at least non-negative) EU Laws, but it has to be up to the individual national clubs to find out and influence their own national laws. EU strategy can be influenced byIAF attendance at these meetings, but national clubs must seek out ways to offer the same level of influence on their national governments.
Strategies in Central and Eastern Europe are well developed with risk assessments done on every species listed. Croatia has the most complete legislation on exotic pets using Bern Convention Codes of Conduct and it is largely their lists that are being passed to the EU to help formulate the EU catalogue. In fact the EU catalogue will be mainly IUCN recommendations seasoned with Croatian risk assessments. Countries are now sharing risk assessments. Escapes of legally held IAS are not currently being prosecuted anywhere in Europe (of relevance to falconry birds). The existing UK blacklist is under current review. All those countries that are advanced are very strong on individual species risk assessment, scientific studies, citizen science input etc. which is encouraging.
The EU is now avoiding the word “lists” wherever possible and is now calling it a catalogue. All ideas at an EU level about whitelists are shelved as being totally unworkable and there is much emphasis that only species that have proper risk assessments, based on scientific fact rather than conjecture, should make the catalogue. However, that still does not stop individual states having blacklists or whitelists or both. Unfortunately some countries are still bringing in both, as is their prerogative. It is necessary for each country to monitor the developments arising form these.
There is no mention of any birds of prey on any of the national lists.
Spyridon Flevaris, head of the IAS section in DG Environment, European Commission, was most encouraging in clearing up many points. His presentation can be seen on PDF by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . I asked him about attending the specialist committee meetings and he says theoretically this is possible for NGOs registered with the Transparency Register. We will continue to monitor this.