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.
The winter is the worst time for small cetaceans
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.
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.
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
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
"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