Fishermen in Cornwall are hoping to minimise dolphin and porpoise bycatch in gill nets.
Over 300 carcasses were found on South West beaches in 2002-03
Cornwall Sea Fisheries and the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO) have come up with a voluntary code of practice to avoid the problems.
The initiative comes amid concern by fishermen that they have been wrongly blamed for some of the deaths.
More than 300 dolphin and porpoise carcasses were found on beaches in the South West in the year 2002-2003.
Under the code, if cetaceans are seen in areas where fishing is taking place,
fishermen will pull their nets and warn other boats in the area.
And if a dolphin or porpoise does appear among the catch, fishermen will in those
circumstances stop fishing and alert other boats.
Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the CFPO, said: "After what I believe
to be totally unjustifiable criticism of Cornish fishermen, this shows that far
from being inactive or disinterested, we have been proactive in developing our
own unique voluntary agreement to tackle this problem.
"Fishermen have again showed a willingness and ability to come up with what
we believe are truly effective measures to tackle this issue.
"As far as we are aware, the co-operation shown over this issue is a first
and something that these fishermen should feel justifiably proud of. This has to
be the way forward."
The new approach was developed out of a voluntary agreement last winter, which
saw fishermen moving their nets out of an area in Mounts Bay, where porpoises
were being found stranded.
Fishermen will monitor the results of the experiment which could be copied around the UK.
Many of the dolphin deaths recorded on beaches around the South West have been blamed by campaigners on pair trawling for bass.
The method of fishing involves a large net attached to two boats and trawled through the water but the dolphins accidentally get caught and drown.
Fisheries minister Ben Bradshaw last month announced a ban on pair trawling in waters 12 miles from the UK coast.