Thursday, April 25, 2019
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Measures to reduce the number of dolphins stranded on the coast

A dolphin in the Mediterranean Sea (illustration). – V. Hache / AFP

"We need to know exactly what's going on. "Fishermen and researchers are sailing in sight of the recrudescence of incidental catches of dolphins, of which more than 1,100 have been found stranded on the Atlantic coast since January. Francois de Rugy announced on Friday measures to try to stop the slaughter.

"We have dolphins coming to the coast with traces, we can prove that it is accidental capture but we can not detect which fishing gear contributed to that. We need to know exactly what is going on, "says Willy Dabin, a researcher at the Pelagis Observatory, specializing in mammals and seabirds.

Increase in budget

The Minister of Ecological Transition was Friday early afternoon in La Rochelle, where Pelagis is located, to announce measures to try to stem the alarming figures, which researchers say has been increasing year after year since then. 2017. The program includes 100,000 euros more, or 400,000 in total, for the research center.

Also, the minister wants to study the possibility of creating "marine sanctuaries" without concrete timetable for the moment. In addition, Paris has announced its willingness to discuss with its European neighbors the problem of stranded dolphins, the right to fish under Community law. French fishermen demand a collective effort, targeting their Spanish or Portuguese counterparts who sail in the same waters as them.

The fishermen questioned

Fishing is very active in the Bay of Biscay between December and the end of April. "We know that catches in fishing nets are the number one killer of marine mammals and the first threat to their survival," warns Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France.

However, French pelagic trawlers equipped their vessels with pingers in 2005 (sound repellents that scare dolphins). As a result, an approximately 60% reduction in incidental catches, found fishermen and researchers.

Sea Shepherd videos accusing

"We are often pointed out as the black cats of the ocean while the pelagic trawls are the most exemplary! Instead of finding culprits, let's try to find solutions, "insists Olivier Le N├ęzet, president of the regional committee of marine fisheries and marine farms of Brittany.

In a video on Thursday, Sea Sheperd claimed to have filmed a French pelagic trawler without pinging, a dead dolphin in his net.

"No sufficient controls"

With the partner fishermen, the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer) will launch in June the project "Licado" to develop a new generation pinger. Researchers will also look at gillnetters, which can not be equipped with pingers. These active devices (pingers) and passive devices (tags) will be submitted to a scientific study on three fishing seasons, that is until 2022.

In the eyes of Lamya Essemlali, however, "we do not put enough controls and even less sanctions dissuasive enough to stop the problem, so there is a kind of impunity surrounding this subject that is scandalous."

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