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Thursday, October 30, 1997 Published at 13:18 GMT


Britain backs drift net ban

Drift nets of up to ten kilometres in lengh are a death trap

The Government is joining calls for a European ban on drift net fishing.

Hundreds of dolphins, whales and other marine life are killed every year in the nets, which are used to catch tuna.

[ image: Dophins and whales are hauled up as part of a catch]
Dophins and whales are hauled up as part of a catch
Britain's decision to oppose the use of drift nets means that there is now a majoriy of EU countries in favour of a wider ban. A Europe-wide ban is almost certain to be adopted when the issue is debated next year.

The EU banned nets of more than two-and-a-half kilometres in length in 1992. However, the illegal use of nets of up to ten kilometres by Italian fisherman has been well documented.

[ image: Caught in the act]
Caught in the act
The nets are used mainly by British, French and Irish fishermen in the North Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay.

During the 'Tuna Wars' in 1995, the Spanish were angered by British and French fleets who they believed were exhausting their traditional tuna grounds by the use of drift nets. The Spanish use rod and long line to fish,

The Fisheries Minister, Elliot Morley, is announcing the shift in the UK's position at a meeting of EU fisheries ministers in Luxembourg.

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