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Credit: Seacoast Science Center

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WDC visits European Parliament to stop dolphins and porpoises dying in fishing gear!

This week WDC was proud to co-host an event in the European Parliament in Brussels. Led by our friends at Birdlife, the event was a great opportunity to highlight the massive issue of seabirds, marine mammals and turtles dying in fishing gear in European waters.  We talked to MEPs about the scale of the problem and, importantly, what they need to do to stop the suffering. 

You may have been following our campaign to make sure that the UK has strong measures to protect dolphins, porpoises and whales in UK seas, after the UK has left the EU. If you are one of the thousands who have signed our petition – thank you!

To make sure dolphins, porpoises and whales are safe from entanglement in fishing gear (known as ‘bycatch’) in UK seas, we need to make sure that the legislation that comes across to UK law, after Brexit, is good enough to start with. The EU regulations that are supposed to protect dolphins from fishing gear are being reviewed and we have the opportunity to influence this. This means that a lot of my effort is focussed on Europe at the moment and this Parliamentary event was one of those opportunities.

WDC belongs to a coalition of European conservation organisations called Seas at Risk. We each bring different but complementary expertise and knowledge meaning that we are a more powerful authority than if we each tackled marine issues alone. WDC’s goal here is to eliminate dolphin, porpoise and whale bycatch in European waters. Collectively, we are meeting with and providing scientific evidence to politicians who sit on the relevant Committees and to other decision makers. They are reviewing and deciding on content and language for this new EU regulation.


The event yesterday was an important opportunity to highlight the tragic numbers of dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals, seabirds and turtles dying in fishing gear in European waters. Along with our colleagues from other charities we were able to talk with MEPs and different parts of the fishing sector and explore solutions.

There will be a vote in the Fisheries Committee on the proposed new measures in October. The legislation is negotiated between the European Commission, Parliamentarians and the Council and the whole of the European Parliament (including your MEP!) will vote. Whatever is agreed is likely to be finalised before the UK leaves the EU and so will probably form the basis of future UK law too.

WDC has been giving the Fisheries Committee MEPs the opportunity to show their support for our campaign by having their photo taken with our cut-out dolphin.

We can’t change these protection measures without you. We will need your help to get better protection for dolphins, porpoises and whales from bycatch in European seas and we will let you know when and what we need you to do!