Latvia lies on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. A unique and important area the Baltic Sea is the largest brackish water system in the world with marked salinity gradients so that there are areas cohabited by freshwater, brackish water and marine species.Many species of gulls, ducks, terns and waders overwinter along the eastern Baltic coast including rare species such as Seller's Eider (VU) and the Long-tailed Duck (VU) which has undergone a precipitous population decline in the last 20 years as shown by studies of wintering populations in the Baltic Sea (Skov et al. 2011). Other priority species including the Common Goldeneye (LC), Little Gull (LC) and Red-throated Loon (LC). The Gulf of Riga and Irbe Strait (transboundary with Estonia) IBAs also supports Velvet Scoters (EN). Between 2005 and 2009 the large-scale LIFE-Nature project managed by the Baltic Environmental Forum and involving BirdLife partners in Latvia and neighbouring countries focussed on the identification and revision of existing IBAs in coastal areas. The project also undertook work to reduce the impact of the key threats and public awareness was raised through the media, information stands and seminars for stakeholders etc. Work is undergoing to ensure there are regular offshore seabird counts, to include all candidate marine IBAs are included in the Natura 2000 designation and to establish national legislation for protection of IBAs.
Current key threats to seabirds in Latvia include:
o Fisheries by-catch
o Pollution, especially oil pollution from shipping routes and offshore refineries
o Coastal development and construction
o Checking whether IBAs which don't overlap with SPAs deserve acquiring this designation
o Obtaining legal protection for the Bezimjannij bank part of the Irbe strait which lies in the Latvian EEZ.
o To ensure maintenance of EU important reef habitats and preserve their ecological functions at their current level
Government's support/relevant policy
As a results of the LIFE-Nature project in Latvia 7 new MPAs were proposed, (with 5 of them also being marine SPAs) . In 2010 the Latvian government approved 5 marine SPAs, two of them with management plans. Please see policy tab for list of agreements that this country is party to.
Petrels and shearwaters
Gulls and terns
Ducks, geese and swans
IUCN Red List Status
The numbers in brackets refer to the country's rank when compared to other countries and territories globally.
o Durinck et al. (1994) Important marine areas for wintering birds in the Baltic Sea. Report to the European Commission by Ornis Consult.
o Skov et al. (2000) Inventory of coastal and marine Important Bird Areas in the Baltic Sea. BirdLife Denmark, Danish Ornithological Society, Copenhagen.
o Skov H., Durinck J., Leopold, M.F. and Tasker M.L. (2007).A quantitative method for evaluating the importance of marine areas for conservation of birds. Biological Conservation 136: 362
BirdLife International (2019) Country profile: Latvia. Available from http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/country/latvia. Checked: 2019-12-16