commission france formal warning dolphins

The EU Commission gives France formal notice over the death of dolphins in Atlantic areas.

Dolphins stranded on the Atlantic coast. • © H. Peltier – Pelagis Observatory – February 2020

The European Commission has given formal notice to France over the death of cetaceans through fishing in the Bay of Biscay area.

Last winter saw a record number of injured and dead dolphins being washed-up on the French Atlantic coastline with more than 1,000 individual incidents having been recorded by the PELAGIS observatory.

Most common dolphins examined within the PELAGIS observatory in La Rochelle show traces of accidental capture and fishing marks. A worrying situation for scientists, who estimate the total number of victims at 8,000 and fear a decline of the species. That’s as much as in 2019. But since 2016, every year has been a new record.

“This mortality is clearly linked to fishing. 2019 was the year of the absolute record stranding of small cetaceans since the early 1980s,” says Hélène Peltier, Pelagis observatory biologist – University of La Rochelle CNRS.

11,500 dolphins found dead in the Bay of Biscay during the winter of 2019

The PELAGIS observatory in La Rochelle keeps the accounts and analyzes the causes of these deaths. The dolphins stranded on the beaches of the Atlantic coast represent more than a thousand specimens recorded this winter.

The European Commission claims that placing scarers on fishing boats, the presence of observers on board, counting of catches, these measures are considered insufficient. In July, the Commission sent a formal notice to France. 

Some environmental organisations have called for dyer action to be taken including the banning of fishing vessels from certain areas.

Dominique Chevillon, vice-president LPO France said “The ultimate solution would be not to fish in certain areas and certain seasons for certain fishing methods or nature of the fishery. It would also be necessary to decide to extend the acoustic scarers (pingers) to all trades of net fishing.”

Temporarily ban fishing would be a measure perceived as a sanction by the fishermen based at the port of Cotinière on the island of Oléron.

“If Europe has the means for its ecological policy and the necessary financial means, in order to tell the boats to stop all activity for a month and a half (with financial compensation), it might be a good thing for reproduction . But I think we will have the unpleasant surprise to see that there are always dolphins washing up on the coasts,” says Johnny Wahl, vice-president of the Regional Fisheries Committee

France still has a month and a half to propose measures, otherwise it faces fines.

Source: France 3 

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