Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Use in-water devices to reduce fish loss from ponds

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • A before-and-after study from the USA found a 95% reduction in the number of double-crested cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus at two ponds in a fish farm following the installation of underwater ropes.
  • A replicated study at a fish farm in Australia found that hanging gill nets in ponds did not decrease the number of cormorants swimming in ponds.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A before-and-after study at a channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus farm in Mississippi, USA, in January-April 1992 (Mott et al. 1995) found a 95% reduction in double-crested cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus on two ponds following the installation of parallel lengths of 9.5 mm yellow polyethylene rope with foam floats, 6.1 m apart (0.8-2.2 birds/min/day before installation vs. 0.03-0.08 afterwards). Eleven helium balloons also appeared useful in frightening cormorants habituated to ropes. During the week prior to addition 0.29 cormorants/min/day entered, whereas in the week after 0.02 entered. A 4.6 ha pond was monitored for 1,019 minutes before rope installation and 2,418 minutes after.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated study at four silver perch Bidyanus bidyanus rearing ponds in New South Wales, Australia, found that hanging of gill nets and harassment patrols proved ineffective in deterring cormorants (great Phalacrocorax carbo, little black P. sulcirostris and little pied P. melanoleucos) from fishing in the ponds (Rowland 1995). Gill nets (large diameter mesh enabling young fish to swim through) were hung vertically in the water and harassment patrols (people walking around the ponds) were undertaken. Three ponds of 0.1 ha were stocked with fry (50,000-60,000 fish/ha) and one of 0.3 ha stocked with fingerlings (8,000/ha). Survival rates of fry in the three smaller ponds was 0.3%, 0.8% and 3.5% (average 1.5%), and survival of fingerlings 0.9%.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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