Sunday, 8 July 2012

New ‘pingers’ could help save Cornwall’s dolphins

Pingers have been around for a while, but with problems
July 2012. Cornwall Wildlife Trust has found a potential solution to the biggest threat facing Cornwall's dolphins and porpoises - getting tangled in fishing nets. Known as ‘pingers', these devices are fitted to the nets and emit a regular sonic noise to highlight the presence of a net to the animals, thereby reducing their chances of becoming entangled.

Pinger problems
In the past, there have been problems associated with the practicalities and safety of using pingers when previously trialled on larger offshore fishing vessels. This also raised the question as to whether pingers would be practical on smaller vessels, which make up a large proportion of our Cornish inshore static net fishing fleet.
To tackle this problem, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, which has 14,000 members and 90 Business Members, has been working in partnership with Cornish inshore fishermen to trial a suitable pinger that will stop dolphins and porpoises getting caught in nets, without causing major practical problems for usual fishing activity.
Hydrophones
The Trust's pinger trial used hydrophones to monitor porpoise and dolphin activity around nets with and without pingers. The results were positive and showed a 48% reduction in harbour porpoise activity around nets with pingers.
The methodology used by the Trust in this work has been accepted by the scientific community and results have recently been published in the prominent ‘Journal of Cetacean Research and Management'.
Ruth Williams, Marine Conservation Manager for Cornwall Wildlife Trust says, "We are delighted that the trials proved such a success, not only in testing what could be an essential tool in protecting our enigmatic and precious inshore dolphins and porpoises, but also in building good relationships with the fishing industry in this county. The fact that this work has been recognised by the scientific community and published is an additional feather in our cap and we hope we can further progress this vital area of work to help protect our dolphins for the future."

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