Dolphin illustration. - V. Ax / AFP

The European Commission has outraged France, Spain and Sweden on Thursday for not having taken enough measures to prevent accidental catch of dolphins in fishing nets.

The three countries "have not taken sufficient measures to monitor by-catch in their waters and by their fleets, nor have they fully used the possibilities offered by the Common Fisheries Policy to comply with their obligation, in particular under the Habitats Directive, to protect these species ”, explains the European executive in a press release.

Three months to do more

Brussels has therefore opened an infringement procedure in this case. Paris, Madrid and Stockholm have three months to remedy the identified problems, on pain of a second warning. Ultimately, the procedure can lead to referral to the EU Court of Justice.

France, in particular, has not fully transposed into its legislation the obligations relating to monitoring the phenomenon and to measures to conserve the species, notes the Commission.

In addition, France and Spain "have also failed to ensure effective control and inspection with regard to the obligation imposed on fishing vessels to use" pingers "(acoustic devices intended to deter cetaceans ) to keep porpoises away from the nets, ”he noted.

Fear of "severe population decline"

At the end of May, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ciem) recommended new measures to limit the accidental catch of dolphins in European waters, including the use of these devices. In February, the European Commissioner for Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius considered the level of bycatch of these protected cetaceans to be "unacceptable".

He also reminded EU fisheries ministers earlier this week that during the winter more than 11,300 dolphins died in the nets of fishermen in the Bay of Biscay.

"Although there are still many dolphins left in the sea, the current death rate could lead to a serious decline in the population," warned the Commission in a note to representatives of the 27. Accidental catches also contribute to the fall of the harbor porpoise population in the Baltic Sea, "formerly quite abundant and now reduced to around 500 animals".


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