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Meeting discusses the increase in dolphin deaths around the coast

The Cornishman

10th June 2004
The eve of World Environment Day was the fitting date for last Friday's meeting at the Queens Hotel, Penzance, on the subject of the ever-increasing dolphin and porpoise deaths around our coast. Organised by West Cornwall Friends of the Earth and chaired by MP, Andrew George, the well-attended meeting featured a panel of speakers - all experts in their field.

They were freelance wildlife researcher and member of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Dr Nick Tregenza of Penzance, Cornwall's Chief Fishery Officer Eddie Derriman, and Ruth Williams, Marine Conservation Officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

They all underlined the inadequacy of the recent EU legislation to protect cetaceans and the difficulty of enforcement.

Mid-winter pair trawling for bass - largely by Continental fisheries - result in mass killings of dolphins, which cannot escape the nets.

The EU persists in asking for further scientific evidence based on observation, but from the Cornish point of view the evidence is already overwhelming that huge numbers of dolphin are being forced to suffer extremely painful deaths by this method.

Mr George said that time limits must be set for this form of fishing, after which fisheries must be closed down.

Those attending the meeting were urged to ask for locally line-caught bass and a Cornish labelling scheme was suggested.

Gill nets present a further problem by catching porpoises and are a risk for our tiny population of bottle-nosed dolphins that many of us are familiar with but whose numbers look increasingly unsustainable.

Dr Nick Tregenza said that these deaths can be stopped by 'pingers' - acoustic devices - but he urged that close to the shore, these nets should be banned.

Eddie Derriman said that the public knew little about the different fishing methods and safety measures to prevent cetacean deaths.

His officer is to hold a further meeting in the autumn to impart information about these methods and measures, was warmly welcomed by the audience.