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Last Updated: Friday, 18 April, 2003, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
MP criticises dolphin deaths report
Dead dolphin
Hundreds of dead dolphins have been found this year
A South West MP has criticised a government report on protecting dolphins as "too little, too late".

Torbay MP Adrian Sanders welcomed an investigation by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) into dolphin deaths around the South West coast.

But he said further inquiries were needed into pair trawling.

This is claimed to be one of the fishing methods most responsible for cetacean deaths.

About 200 dolphins and porpoises have been found dead around the coast of Devon and Cornwall since January.

Defra's By-Catch Response Strategy report looked into the death of these mammals in fishing nets, and accepted this does exist.

But Mr Sanders, like many other campaigners, said he was worried it had not looked into the problem deeply enough.

He believes more could have been done to enforce compulsory 'by-catch observers' going onto boats.

Voluntary acceptance

Instead, the report is relying on the voluntary acceptance by skippers of onboard 'by-catch observers', which critics say is not efficient or regular enough.

Mr Sanders said that, if no definite action was taken now, some species, like bottle-nosed dolphins, would disappear altogether.

The Defra report made several key recommendations on how to reduce dolphin deaths.

These included a legal requirement for vessels to use "pingers", a device which emits a noise under water to warn dolphins off.

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