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Monday, June 8, 1998 Published at 18:45 GMT 19:45 UK


EU bans fishing 'wall of death'

Drift-nets: Kill up to 8,000 dolphins in European seas every year

European Union ministers have voted to ban drift-nets, blamed for causing widespread damage to sea life and breaking strict fishing regulations.

The BBC's Europe correspondent Angus Roxburgh reports: "Nets widely criticised"
The nets, which can be as long as 8km, will be banned by the end of 2001.

Ireland and France asked for more time for fishing fleets to adapt before the ban comes into place.

Some fishermen completely oppose banning drift-nets, saying that the catching of other species is acceptable.

But environmental group Greenpeace, which has campaigned against the nets for 15 years, gave evidence to the EU that nets 8km long are being used in the Mediterranean, breaking a United Nations moratorium.

[ image: Fishermen throw the dead mammals over board]
Fishermen throw the dead mammals over board
Fishermen use the nets, dubbed by critics "walls of death", to catch tuna and swordfish. But at the same time up to 8,000 dolphins die every year as they are caught in the nets.

The dead mammals are thrown back into the sea.

Richard Page of Greenpeace said: "There have been scientific studies into the by-catch.

"The French caught 1,700 dolphins in one season. We want the ban to come into place by the year 2,000. A longer delays means more dolphin deaths."

Ban is UK priority

A ban on drift-nets has been a priority during the UK's presidency of the EU and its ministers gained a majority in favour of the move.

Recent international surveys have supported Greenpeace's evidence about the effects of the drift-nets on sea life.

The USA and six Latin American countries have already signed a similar agreement on drift-nets.

But Jeff Bullus, vice-chairman of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, said the number of dolphin deaths he had seen were acceptable.

"I cannot understand why the ban on drift-nets should take place," he said.

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