Dolphins stranded on Cape Breton beach in February 2013 -
DR / OBSERVATOIRE PELAGIS
More than 400 dolphins have already been accidentally caught this year on the Atlantic coast, according to the Pelagis observatory ... Environmental protection associations pleaded Tuesday in La Rochelle for a one-month winter moratorium on net fishing, in order to reduce these accidental catches.
The Bird Protection League (LPO) and France nature environnement (FNE) organized a press briefing on Tuesday in front of the Pelagis observatory in La Rochelle, specializing in marine mammals and birds.
Inside, AFP was able to attend the autopsy of a young dolphin, its disemboweled carcass lying on a table.
Nearby, in a tank, four other corpses of adult cetaceans had already been studied.
A constant increase in mortality
"Some 400 dolphins (dead from accidental captures) since January 1 out of around 500 stranding reports, that's as much in less than two months as during the smallest years of quantification, which has existed since the 1980s", explains Willy Dabin, engineer at Pélagis.
“For five or six years, we have measured a constant increase in mortality (…), the current year is a record compared to the previous one.
This shows an exploitation of the environment which is not sustainable ”.
“The nets, which were already often very long, are now also very high.
The nets set for hake can reach 10 meters high.
This forms real walls, ”explains Dominique Chevillon, member of Ré nature environnement, linked to FNE.
"We are asking for a moratorium on fishing for three weeks or one month between January 15 and March 15", continues the activist, according to whom "the state should compensate the fishermen".
"If we put pingers everywhere, we will no longer have a dolphin"
This solution is more attractive to scientists than pingers, acoustic devices to ward off cetaceans.
"If we put pingers everywhere, the Gulf (of Biscay) will be a giant pinger, very noisy and we will no longer have a dolphin", warns Willy Dabin.
"This is why research is being done on nets with metal meshes which are visible to animals".
The commitment to equip trawlers with these devices is part of a government plan to limit incidental catches of dolphins presented in early February by the Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin.
A plan against which FNE appealed to the Council of State in mid-February.
The fishermen victims of a “campaign of demonization”?
Annick Girardin estimated last week in remarks to have obtained "strong commitments" from the fishermen, acknowledging that "perhaps France has been ostrich for too long on the recommendations of the European Commission", which asked him to act.
"What is the share of global warming?
The responsibility of fishermen?
[in the dolphin stranding].
Today, no one is able to tell me, ”she said.
"When FNE says that 90% of stranded dolphins are the result of accidental fishing, this figure is totally unsubstantiated."
French fishermen believe they are the subject of a "demonization campaign" by NGOs.
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