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Wildlife trusts support dolphin action

PUBLISHED: 17:09 24 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:20 24 February 2010

EAST Anglia's wildlife trusts are supporting a national campaign called for urgent action to reduce the number of dolphin deaths caused by commercial fishing.

EAST Anglia's wildlife trusts are supporting a national campaign called for urgent action to reduce the number of dolphin deaths caused by commercial fishing.

The trusts say that despite repeated warnings, hundreds of dolphins are being allowed to die in UK waters as a result of unregulated sea bass fisheries.

Julian Roughton, Suffolk Wildlife Trust director, said few deaths had been recorded off the county's coastline because local sea bass fishing was small-scale rod-and-line activity and was well managed.

However, trawl nets were used in the South-West of England the known death toll there among dolphins since the beginning of January had totalled 114 – an increase of 27% on the same period last year.

The national Wildlife Trusts organisation yesterday launched a campaign to try to help dolphins and called on the European Union to stop the unnecessary slaughter.

Signatures are being collected for a petition to be presented to European fishing minister, Franz Fischler.

The trusts want a ban on large-scale commercial fishing for bass until fisheries' practices, management and regulation are changed to reduce dolphin deaths.

They are calling on the public to write to their MPs and MEPs and sign the petition.

Dr Simon Lyster , director general of the Wildlife Trusts, said the majority of carcasses being washed ashore showed signs of having been caught in nets.

"There is evidence that these deaths are caused primarily by bass trawlers that work the English Channel and these trawlers can only be regulated and stopped at a European level," he said.

Dr Lyster said the dolphin death toll was "an absolute disgrace".

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

Conservationists believe the bass fishing industry is unsustainable at its present level and that bass stocks will plummet unless regulation is introduced.

Further information and copies of the petition can be obtained by telephoning the Wildlife Trusts on 01636 677711.


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