Environmental protection associations are working to reduce the accidental capture of dolphins. On Tuesday 23 February they asked in La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, for a winter moratorium of one month on net fishing. According to figures from the Pelagis Observatory, more than 400 dolphins have been accidentally caught this year and 512 since December 1.
At a press conference, an engineer from the organization added that this figure represents “both in less than two months and in the lesser years of quantification, which has existed since the 1980s.” “For five or six years, we have measured a constant increase in mortality (…), the current year is a record compared to the previous one. We can only say ‘alert’ when we speak of a species, the common dolphin, which has low reproducibility. “According to the engineer, this shows” an exploitation of the environment that is not sustainable. “
Research on nets visible by cetaceans
“The nets, which were often already very long, are now also very tall. The nets set up for hake can reach 10 meters in height. This forms real walls”, explains Dominique Chevillon, member of Ré nature environment, linked to France Nature Environnement association. “We are asking for a moratorium on fishing for three weeks or a month between January 15 and March 15,” continues the activist, according to whom “the state should compensate fishermen.”
This solution is more attractive to scientists than vibrators, acoustic devices to protect themselves from cetaceans. “If we put pingers everywhere, the Gulf (of Biscay) will be a giant pinger, very noisy and we will no longer have dolphins,” warns the Pélagis engineer. “That is why it is investigated in nets with metal mesh visible to animals.”
A government plan presented in early February
The commitment to equip trawlers with these devices is part of a government plan to limit bycatch of dolphins presented in early February by Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin. A plan against which France Nature Environnement appealed to the Council of State in mid-February. Annick Girardin estimated last week in statements to AFP having obtained “strong commitments” from fishermen, acknowledging that “France may have been ostrich too long in the recommendations of the European Commission”, which asked him to act.
“What is the share of global warming? Of natural mortality? Of the gear that would be used? Of the responsibility of the fishermen? (On the stranding of dolphins, editor’s note). Today, we cannot say” , He said. saying. “When the FNE says that 90% of stranded dolphins are the result of accidental fishing, this figure has no foundation.”
French fishermen believe that they are the target of a “demonization campaign” by NGOs.