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Monday, 10 February, 2003, 10:29 GMT
Ministers pressed to save dolphins
dolphin carcass
Dolphin deaths have risen 27% this year
A wildlife charity is launching a campaign to prevent the deaths of hundreds of dolphins around the South West coasts.

The organisation, which represents wildlife trusts from across the country, will petition the government and the EU.

Since the start of January this year, 114 dolphins have been washed ashore in Devon and Cornwall, an increase of more than 27% on 2002.

Conservationists say this year will be the worst on record.

They believe the deaths are caused by the creatures getting stuck in the nets of trawlers fishing for sea bass.

HAVE YOUR SAY
dolphin net
Dolphins' plight
On Monday, The Wildlife Trusts are launching a campaign to collect 20,000 signatures on a petition calling for observers on all European fishing boats and a ban on sea bass fishing in the English Channel.

The Wildlife Trusts said marine wildlife is in serious trouble and the UK's legislation is totally inadequate.

They believe the deaths can only be stopped at a European level.

Bureaucrats are dithering whilst the slaughter of our dolphins goes on

Dr Simon Lyster
Dr Simon Lyster, director general of The Wildlife Trusts, said: "It is an absolute disgrace that, despite repeated warnings, the EU has done nothing to stop hundreds of dolphins dying in an unregulated sea bass fishery which is in itself unsustainable and likely to lead to a collapse of bass stocks.

"I have rarely felt so angry that bureaucrats are dithering whilst the slaughter of our dolphins goes on.

"The fishery should be closed immediately and the UK Government should put maximum pressure on the EU to halt this horrendous waste of life."

The campaign will be launched at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.

Local fishing representatives say their fleet is not responsible and have blamed industrial foreign vessels looking for bass.

graphic of nets


Click here to go to BBC Cornwall

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

30 Jan 03 | England
22 Jan 03 | England
10 Jan 03 | England
08 Jan 03 | England
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