Public Statement on Inappropriate Trapping of Shorebirds in Yubu Island Ramsar Site

Mr. Spike Millington, Chief of the Secretariat of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership, September 5th 2012.

Reproduced with permission.

“Yubu Island is Korea’s most important shorebird site and large numbers of shorebirds depend on this area during their migration. It is very likely that by putting up mist nets in this area, very large numbers of birds will be caught. This poses a serious problem since even experienced bird ringers will have difficulty extracting the birds before they become very severely entangled and succumb to injury, stress or the effects on high heat, or rain. Unfortunately this was the case on September 4, when, despite our best efforts, a number of birds suffered injuries that certainly will result in their death, either through injury or subsequent predation.

Given the importance of Yubu Island, recognized in its designation as both a Ramsar and EAAFP network site, mist netting at this site is not appropriate. This is particularly the case because it is a critical site for the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, currently thought to number less than 300 individuals. Many hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent to protect this bird, both on its breeding grounds through a captive breeding programme and at critical sites throughout the East Asian- Australasian Flyway. Six Spoon-billed Sandpipers were present at Yubu Island in early September. Luckily none appeared to be caught in the mist nets on the day of our visit, but the risk of capture for such a critically endangered species, perhaps in a large flock of other shorebird species, presents a very alarming prospect to all those around the world who are trying to save this iconic species.

It would enhance the Republic of Korea’s image for shorebird conservation if Yubu Island and other critical sites were managed for conservation of migratory shorebirds. Seocheon County is already doing a lot in this regard, but mist netting should be very carefully controlled and preferably confined to other areas not sheltering such large numbers of shorebirds, including several critically threatened species. EAAFP supports Korea in its efforts to protect migratory waterbirds and their habitats, including designating and conserving important sites, of which Yubu Island is one of the most important.”

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