IWDG seek meeting to explore actions to reduce dolphin bycatch

15th Oct 2016

The number of strandings of common dolphins over the last few years has increased and it is now the most frequently recorded species. Strandings typically peak during the winter and the evidence is that these deaths are associated with fisheries bycatch and especially from trawl fisheries. The IWDG Stranding Scheme identifies unusual events or trends but how to respond and manage the issues identified can be challenging.

 Common dolphin © Tommy Doyle

IWDG have been trying to seek a meeting with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority to try and bring together the main stakeholders to see what can be done to reduce the dolphin deaths associated with the offshore pelagic fleet. We think the SFPA are the key players as they have legal obligations to ensure vessels fishing in Irish waters are compliant with EU Regulations. Apparently these vessels are fishing within their quota but they are also obliged under Bycatch Regulation 812/2004 to monitor bycatch of dolphins and to use mitigation measures such as acoustic deterrants. Fisheries legislation is complex and can be open to interpretation but the strandings of large numbers of dolphins on our coast reflects a mortality that is unacceptable and under conservation obligations must be investigated. The SFPA are prepared to host such a meeting and we are currently identifying those key partners who are key to this issue.

The IWDG as a minimum require

                                                     - independent observers to board these vessels and carry out observer studies to record interactions

                                                     - use of mitigation measures to reduce this bycatch which is at unacceptable levels

                                                     - post mortem examination of stranded dolphins to determine causes of death to quantify that attributed to fisheries

 

Film-maker Ken Sullivan of SeaFever Productions has made a short video highlighting these dolphin strandings to raise awareness of this issue. we thank him for his continued support

https://vimeo.com/175557681?from=outro-embed

 

see http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV%3Al66024 for details on bycatch regulation

Dr Simon Berrow

Chief Science Officer, IWDG