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Mass stranding of pilot whales in Tasmania

Mass stranding of pilot whales in Tasmania

Over 450 pilot whales have stranded in various locations along a stretch of coastline in...
Tahlequah, the Southern Resident orca, gives birth to healthy calf

Tahlequah, the Southern Resident orca, gives birth to healthy calf

J35 and J57. Photo by Katie Jones, Center for Whale Research / Permit #21238 Tahlequah...
Why do female orcas live so long after they stop having babies?

Why do female orcas live so long after they stop having babies?

Orcas are one of only five species known to experience menopause and females can live...
Humpback whales swim up river in Kakadu National Park

Humpback whales swim up river in Kakadu National Park

Wildlife experts in Australia's Northern Territory are monitoring a humpback whale that has travelled 18...
WDC scientists join call for global action to protect whales and dolphins from extinction

WDC scientists join call for global action to protect whales and dolphins from extinction

Scientists from Whale and Dolphin Conservation, along with over 250 other experts from 40 countries,...
Rastus – the tale of an extraordinary dog and his love of dolphins

Rastus – the tale of an extraordinary dog and his love of dolphins

Rastus Dr Nicolette Scourse is an academic, educator, author and illustrator with a passion for...
BELUGA WHALE SANCTUARY UPDATE:  Little Grey and Little White arrive safely after move to bay care area

BELUGA WHALE SANCTUARY UPDATE: Little Grey and Little White arrive safely after move to bay care area

We can now confirm that two beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, are now...
Vessel Speed Limits Sought to Protect Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

Vessel Speed Limits Sought to Protect Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

"What we are asking for are essentially school zones along our coast, areas where vessels...

Opportunity lost in EU Ministers bycatch vote

On Tuesday there was an important vote in the European Parliament Fisheries Committee about fisheries conservation measures including future bycatch measures for dolphins, porpoises and whales. Here is a summary of what happened in the vote on bycatch

The existing (inadequate) rules for monitoring and mitigating dolphin and porpoise bycatch remain intact for now and most importantly, efforts by some MEPs to remove existing bycatch measures in the Baltic Sea and South Western Waters (off Spain and Portugal) were rejected. Both of these regions contain genetically distinct and declining populations of harbour porpoises, due to being incidentally caught in fishing gear, so they need all the protection that they can get. Both porpoise populations are in a perilous state and are in desperate need of better protection from fishing nets, so fending off efforts to remove existing, wholly inadequate protection seem to me like a very hollow victory. 

Bycatch measures that the Commission proposed for the >12 metre fishing vessels deploying static fishing gear in the Mediterranean and Black Sea to use acoustic deterrent devices to scare marine mammals away from nets also remain intact.

However, this was a real lost opportunity for the EU Fisheries Ministers to improve the existing bycatch measures and to expand the measures to include other protected species that die in large numbers in some European fisheries, such as seals and seabirds. Further, efforts to consider the welfare implications of bycatch were rejected. The requirement under the EU Habitats Directive is to offer dolphins, porpoises and whales “strict protection” and yet, existing bycatch laws are certainly not protecting them adequately. 

There was a general and serious weakening of language throughout the file for all fisheries measures, and a very disappointing move away from science and conservation. Here’s what our colleagues at Seas at RiskClientEarth and Bird Life had to say about the proposed new rules.

In a lucky twist, at the end of the session, the Fisheries Committee surprisingly voted for the adopted report to be presented to European Parliament Plenary for a vote, so we very much welcome this additional level of transparency and a further opportunity for engagement. The outcome of the Plenary vote will then form the basis of future trilogue negotiations.

Overall, this was a dark day for Europe’s marine environment. I hope some improvements can be made at Plenary because too many species needlessly die in fishing gear every year.

Please support our work to end the needless deaths of whales and dolphins in fishing gear and nets.