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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 05:50 GMT
Fishing ban call to save dolphins
Dead dolphin on beach   Greenpeace
The winter is the worst time for small cetaceans
MPs are calling for a ban on some types of fishing unless trawler crews reduce the number of dolphins and porpoises being killed in nets.

A report from the Commons environment committee says current plans to avoid accidental catches of sea mammals do not go far enough.

Sea bass fishing techniques are thought to pose the biggest problem.

MPs want the government to take drastic action unless the number of dolphin deaths is brought down by 2006.

A report last week by conservationists concluded some dolphins could be wiped out if the fishing continues in the same way.

Greenpeace and the UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society estimate around 10,000 animals die annually on UK and French coasts.

Emergency measures

A Greenpeace vessel, the Esperanza, is in the Channel at the moment studying the dolphins and porpoises (cetacean).

The fishery could be closed if the government made a formal request to the European Commission, asking it to impose emergency measures.

If the government acts on these recommendations it would be good news for dolphins

The MPs also make recommendations about the use of "pingers" - small battery operated devices that can be attached to fishing nets and deter dolphins from coming too close to the nets.

Greenpeace Oceans campaigner Sarah Duthie said: "The hundreds of dead dolphins and porpoises that wash up on UK beaches are clear and gruesome evidence that the government is failing to stop thousands of these animals from dying each year in huge fishing nets.

"If the government acts on these recommendations it would be good news for dolphins."

EU Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw said: "The UK is one of the few member states in Europe that has taken this issue seriously and has carried out extensive research into the problem of dolphins and porpoises getting trapped in nets.

"I am concerned that action should be taken to reduce the general level of small cetacean bycatch and I do not rule out other options such as closures if we cannot quickly reduce dolphin casualties by other means."

Images courtesy of Greenpeace

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13 Jan 04  |  Devon
MPs tackle dolphin deaths
03 Dec 03  |  Devon
Nets 'kill 800 cetaceans a day'
13 Jun 03  |  Science/Nature
Campaigners tackle dolphin deaths
20 Jan 04  |  Science/Nature
Survey highlights dolphins' plight
11 Dec 02  |  England

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