Call for halt to dolphin deaths
Western Morning News
15th January 2004
Cornish MP Andrew George today called on fisheries minister Ben Bradshaw to halt fishing methods which are killing large numbers of dolphins. Mr George, the Liberal Democrat shadow fisheries minister, was speaking in a Commons debate this week on the outcome of the EU Fisheries Council, which met before Christmas.
He called on the Government to take action to end pair trawling for bass, to investigate the effect of industrial fishing and to introduce some restrictions on fishing areas.
More dead dolphins than ever before are washing up on Cornish beaches, following the start of the bass fishing season.
Pairs of powerful trawlers tow huge nets at high speeds in mid-water to catch the bass, which gather in shoals in the Western Approaches in winter to spawn.
The nets, used mainly by French and Scottish fishermen, not only catch bass but dolphins, which suffer a slow and agonising death by drowning.
The West Cornwall MP is now seeking a meeting with French fisheries officials to bring about better co-operation on the issue and greater compliance with EU rules.
Following the debate, Mr George said: "Already this year large numbers of dolphins are being washed up dead on the beaches of my constituency.
"The Government should if necessary act unilaterally to make sure that this is the last winter when these strandings occur.
"We know that pair trawling for bass is a major cause of the deaths and DEFRA should also be looking closely at the effects of industrial fishing.
"The present situation is totally unacceptable and we cannot allow it to carry on drifting like this."