Monday, 13 August 2018

Protection for dolphins and seabirds ‘weaker under Brexit plans’


Michael Gove’s plan does not oblige fishing industry to eliminate bycatch, where boats accidentally net sea species

Sun 22 Jul 2018 06.00 BST

Protection for dolphins and seabirds will be weaker under government plans for Brexit than if Britain stayed in the EU, according to a new analysis by environmental groups.

Under the EU’s Seabird Plan of Action, the fishing industry is obliged to eliminate “bycatch”, where boats accidentally catch seabirds, dolphins and other species. Under laws set out in environment secretary Michael Gove’s white paper on fisheries, they would need only to implement “practical and effective risk-based mitigation”.

An analysis by Greener UK, which represents 13 major organisations including the RSPB and WWF, welcomed ministers’ commitments to sustainable fishing and a pledge to consider fish stocks as a public asset. But it said the details in the white paper fell short of the government’s ambitions.

More than 300,000 whales, dolphins, porpoises and other cetaceans and 300,000 birds die worldwide every year by getting trapped in fishing nets. UK fishing fleets are among the best at avoiding bycatch, which may put them at a competitive disadvantage against those from other member states which do not take the rules as seriously.

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