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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 12:10 GMT
Dolphins 'in danger of dying out'
The bodies of dolphins washed ashore in the South West
Dolphins are accidentally caught in fishing nets
Dolphins off the South West coast are in danger of being wiped out, environmentalists have warned.

They say increasing numbers are being killed, after getting caught in huge fishing nets used by trawlers.

Since the beginning of this year the bodies of more than 40 dolphins have washed up on Devon and Cornwall beaches.

Last year, 180 dolphins were found washed up on the coast. In December alone, 32 were found.

Conservationists believe pair trawling is to blame - where a huge net is strung between two boats.

And they are calling on the European Union to put independent observers on fishing boats to monitor the situation.

Marine expert Dave Ball said: "The problem is that they will be steaming up the coast from Land's End for eight hours before they haul the nets in.

"So any dolphin caught inside does not really stand a chance."

Truro and St Austell Liberal Democrat MP Matthew Taylor
MP Matthew Taylor: Time to end deaths
But fishing representatives say the local fleet is not responsible and have blamed industrial foreign vessels looking for bass.

Many dead dolphins have been found mutilated, some have knife wounds.

Truro and St Austell MP Matthew Taylor will urge the government to adopt a clear strategy to prevent further unnecessary dolphin deaths.

He says trials using adapted nets to protect dolphins and porpoises "appear to have been a complete failure".

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  The BBC's Jon Kay
"Conservationists claim that foreign fishing vessels are to blame"

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10 Jan 03 | England
08 Jan 03 | England
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