Apart from the sheer scale of this avoidable carnage, the death of these unfortunate animals is particularly horrific and cruel. The dolphins and porpoises struggle in the net for many minutes, often suffering broken teeth and beaks, deep gashes in their sensitive skins and severed fins and flukes, before they finally suffocate.
In order to reduce this unacceptable bycatch, we are campaigning across Europe for new provisions under the Common Fisheries Policy for the compulsory monitoring of cetacean bycatch in all fisheries that could cause this problem. We are calling for a formal response process, through which any identified problems have to be addressed by a bycatch reduction plan with strict targets and timeframes. I enclose a document that outlines these proposals for your information. We also support the compulsory labelling of all fish products to reveal the location and method of their capture.
One of our campaign objectives is to encourage awareness and concern among consumers, about the ethical and environmental implications of the products they buy. I am sure you will agree that it is in the interests of all retailers to be able to provide a credible reassurance to customers that the fish they buy is caught in fisheries that do not harm dolphins or porpoises. At the very least, that these fisheries have been monitored and, in the event of bycatch problems, are being subject to mitigating management measures. However, where bycatch reduction targets are not being met, we propose that the fishery concerned should be suspended.
We urge you to use your significant influence, as a major fish retailer, to impress upon the European Commission the importance you attach to this issue, and your support for a credible and independent system for monitoring cetacean bycatch in fisheries and an effective process for bycatch reduction. Given the great sensitivity of the issue, I am sure that you would not want to see popular fish products such as hake, bass or turbot branded as dolphin killers.
We hope you will give your support to our campaign. Given the timing of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, we feel that if this initiative is to be successful, representations should be made to the Commission as soon as possible (preferably by the middle of June). We suggest your letter should be directed to Fisheries Commissioner, Franz Fischler and we have taken the liberty of enclosing an outline text that sets out the case for the changes we are proposing. We would be grateful if you could copy to us any letter you send to the Commission on this matter. We intend to issue a press release stating that we are calling on supermarkets and other major fish outlets to assist in pressing for provisions within the CFP for the monitoring and prevention of dolphin and porpoise deaths in fisheries.
If you would like to discuss further the issues raised in this letter, please contact Ali Ross of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society on 01768 482282, or Bernadette Clarke of the Marine Conservation Society on 01989 566017.
We look forward to hearing from you.