Saturday, 5 May 2012

Surge in dolphins killed as bycatch off Cornwall

Concern over high dolphin death toll in Cornish coastal waters
May 2012. Concern is mounting over the number of dolphins and porpoises caught in fishing nets this year. Since the beginning of January, Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Marine Strandings Network has examined and recorded 50 dead dolphins and porpoises so far. Just under half (23) show distinct signs of having died in fishing gear.
Common dolphin killed by French trawler
One common dolphin was examined on the beach at Mousehole in early April, and was one of five seen in the same week. Its face shows the typical mark of a large mesh, mid-water trawl net from which it tried to escape. A large fillet of flesh had been removed from the back, presumably for eating. This is a known practice on French boats, and French pair trawlers were working close to the south coast at the time. The dolphin's tail had been cut off in the course of cutting the animal free from a winch strop, which was used to lift it over the side of the boat. Local people were very upset to see what had been done to this beautiful animal and to hear that this was just one of many.
French vessels allowed to fish more than UK vessels!
Local cetacean researcher, Nick Tregenza, says, "UK mid-water trawlers have been pushed outside the 12 mile limit by national fishery regulations, but French vessels are allowed to come in closer.
Acoustic deterrent
Some research is underway by the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St. Andrew's University in Scotland, they're hopeful of finding an acoustic deterrent to keep animals out of the nets, but there's no EU requirement on fisheries to use such a device. In the present situation we believe that EU mid-water trawlers should be subject to video monitoring to assess the size of the bycatch offshore of these animals that are so highly valued by people here and across the world."

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