Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

1,100 dead dolphins wash up on French beaches over four month period

Industrial fishing nets are blamed for most of the deaths

France has been shaken into action after a record number of dead dolphins have washed up on the country’s Atlantic coast this year, many clearly victims of industrial fishing. AP
France has been shaken into action after a record number of dead dolphins have washed up on the country’s Atlantic coast this year, many clearly victims of industrial fishing. AP

Activists are demanding action after around 1,100 dead dolphins washed up on French beaches in just four months.

"There's never been a number this high," said Willy Daubin, a member of La Rochelle University's National Centre for Scientific Research. "Already in three months, we have beaten last year's record, which was up from 2017 and even that was the highest in 40 years."

Researchers say industrial fishing nets are mostly to blame for the dolphins’ deaths, but have not found a reason for the spike in numbers in 2019.

France’s ecology minister has launched a national plan to protect the dolphins. AP
France’s ecology minister has launched a national plan to protect the dolphins. AP

The creatures washing up on France’s Atlantic coast beaches are often mutilated by fishermen attempting to remove them from their nets without breaking them, activists say.

French Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy rushed last week to La Rochelle in an attempt to lower the number of dolphins dying as a result of humans. He's under pressure, partly due to French President Emmanuel Macron's pro-ecology stance and oft-quoted slogan to "Make the Planet Great Again."

Rugy has come up with some plans, including bolstering research into existing acoustic repellent devices in place in 26 two-vessel trawlers off the Bay of Biscay, an industrial fishing hub in the Atlantic Ocean. When activated, the devices send unpleasant signals to nearby dolphins that cause them to swim away.

But animal rights group Sea Shepherd said his measures do not go far enough, and has already decried the acoustic repellents as "useless."

Updated: March 30, 2019 05:07 AM

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