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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 March, 2005, 01:31 GMT
Greenpeace under fire on protest
Greenpeace pulled buoys from trawlers' nets on Tuesday. Picture: Greenpeace/Davison
A West Country fishing leader has attacked Greenpeace protests against pair trawlers in the English Channel.

Protesters on the Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, are targeting bass pair trawlers which they blame for thousands of dolphin deaths every year.

Greenpeace is calling for an emergency closure of the bass fishery.

But Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, condemned the actions of the "extremist" protesters.

We are not anti-fishing, but there is a serious problem out there
Sarah Duthie - Greenpeace
Greenpeace blame pair trawlers' fishing nets, which are slung between two boats, for snaring dolphins.

Mr Trebilcock said: "I understand where they're coming from with the by catch issue, but we cannot have extremist organisations taking the law into their own hands.

"This type of fishing is not illegal and so for an organisation like Greenpeace to stop fishermen earning a living cannot be right."

The Esperanza, supported by divers and inflatable boats has been targeting trawlers in the Channel since 17 February.

Divers have been dropped into the path of French and Scottish trawlers and on Tuesday protesters tied buoys to the nets of two French trawlers, forcing them to stop fishing.

Greenpeace intends to maintain its protest until the end of the bass fishing season in April.

Sarah Duthie, head of Greenpeace's oceans campaign, told BBC News: "We are not anti-fishing, but there is a serious problem out there which has been known about for a number of years.

"Every winter thousands of dolphins are being killed and we believe urgent action needs to be taken."

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