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New dolphin plan could limit fishing net deaths

20TH March 2003


Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley launches “UK Small Cetacean Bycatch Response Strategy”.

New plans to help protect dolphins and other small cetaceans from accidental injury or death in fishing nets were published today by UK Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley.

A consultation document, the "UK Small Cetacean Bycatch Response Strategy", looks at ways to reduce mortality rates amongst dolphins, porpoises and other similar marine creatures.

Key recommendations include:

a legal requirement for certain UK fishing vessels in the Celtic and North Seas to use acoustic deterrents ("pingers") with their nets

an effective observer scheme to monitor cetacean bycatch
better cetacean population monitoring

a recognised accreditation scheme for cetacean friendly fisheries
Emphasising his commitment to reducing dolphin casualties, Elliot Morley said:

"The bycatch problem poses a major threat to the conservation of dolphins and other cetaceans. The UK is among European leaders in developing solutions.

"But the problem cannot be solved in isolation. Co-operation at EU level is vital if there is to be real progress. That is why I continue to press the matter with Fisheries Ministers from other member states and with the European Commission."

Research carried out by , working with fishermen, has shown the effectiveness of pingers in reducing bycatch in set net fisheries - by 92% amongst harbour porpoises in one trial (see Strategy document, p15).

Part-funding for the purchase of pingers is likely to be available to fishermen via a UK/EU fisheries grant scheme, FIFG (see Strategy document, p25).

are currently trialling a cetacean exclusion device (separator grid) and pingers in the winter bass fishery sector (see Strategy document, p18).

Stakeholders will now have three months to put their views on the new plans to the Department.

1. The "UK Small Cetacean Bycatch Response Strategy" is available online at

Hard copies are available from Press Office on 0207 238 1133.

2. A colour graphic illustrating a dolphin's escape from a specially-adapted fishing net (as seen in the Strategy document, p18) is available from Press Office on 0207 238 6027 or 0207 238 5502.

3. The publication reflects work undertaken by in consultation with the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland.

4. UK-based "pinger" manufacturers Aquatec, whose devices are amongst several types currently being trialled at sea by and who attended today's media briefing, offer technical information on their website at Aquatec director Andy Smerdon can be contacted for interview on 01252 843072.

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