Fishing boats ‘kill 2,000 dolphins a year’

Fishing boats ‘kill 2,000 dolphins a year’
Independent – UK

Fishing boats ‘kill 2,000 dolphins a year’
By Sam Marsden and Arifa Akbar
18 February 2005

British and French fishing boats could be killing more than 2,000 dolphins a year, environmental scientists have warned.

Campaigners renewed calls for a halt to pair-trawling for bass yesterday after a report highlighted the growing number of dolphins caught in nets in the English Channel. They fear that the species could become extinct in the Channel.

The study by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) estimates that 9,700 common dolphins were living in the main fishing ground last winter. But pair-trawlers, which tow large nets between two boats, have been blamed for killing hundreds of them.

Last September, the Government banned pair-trawling for bass within 12 miles of the coast of south-west England, but environmentalists say this does not go far enough. Last week, Greenpeace launched a High Court challenge to the Government, seeking a ban on all pair-trawling for bass within 200 miles of the UK.

The environmental group claims that, under the EU Habitats Directive, the Government is obliged to take swift action to protect the dolphin population. Sarah Duthie, the head of Greenpeace’s oceans campaign, feared dolphins could disappear from the Channel.

“Your children might never see dolphins off the south coast unless the Government bans pair-trawling for sea bass now,” she said. Ms Duthie accused the Fisheries minister, Ben Bradshaw, of “consistently failing” to take “meaningful action” to protect dolphins

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