PLEASE HELP AGAINST UNWISE EUROPEAN FISHING ACTIVITIES!
THE EU FLEET IS FISHING (and poaching) ALL OVER THE WORLD!
From: EUROPEAN CETACEAN BYCATCH CAMPAIGN
I apologise for writing to you in English. Unfortunately, my knowledge
of your mothertongue is not adequate. And
I understand how busy you are, but feel that you may wish to help with
the European Cetacean Bycatch Campaign.
The ultimate goal of the campaign is to obtain explicit legal provision
in EU law to address the problem of cetacean bycatch.
We want an EU regulation dealing with bycatch to be adopted and enforced
- this would ensure bycatch monitoring and mitigation, by prescribing a
full set of legal powers and duties including enforcement powers along
with a time frame.
We are lobbying Members of the European Parliament (especially those on
the Fisheries and Environment Committees), the European Commissioner for
Agriculture and Fisheries, and the European Commissioner for the
Environment. As a result many politicians in the UK, the Republic of
Ireland, and other European States are actively involved in the
campaign. Mr. C. Davies MEP, is leading the campaign in the European
We are also asking people to write to the British, Danish, Dutch,
French, Irish and Spanish Ministers for Fisheries, care of their
respective Embassy. We are also asking them to write to the major
supermarkets and fish suppliers.
The European Cetacean Bycatch Campaign is a purely voluntary
Please see suggested letters, names and addresses listed below.
Suggested letter of Protest to MPs, MEPs, Commissioners, and Ministers
for Fisheries (c/o their respective Embassy)
The Member States of the European Community are obliged, under the
Habitats and Species Directive to monitor the incidental capture and
killing of all cetaceans, and to take action to ensure that incidental
capture does not have a significant impact on the species concerned.
They have also made commitments under the Bonn Agreement (ASCOBANS), to
minimise, and ultimately reduce to zero, losses of small cetaceans
through fisheries bycatch.
However, thousands of cetaceans are dying every year in fishing nets. I
would be pleased to know what actions you are taking to address this
Letters of Protest to,
EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Fisheries
200, Rue de la Loi
Belgium (fax 295.92.25)
Commissioner for the Environment
200, Rue de la Loi
Martin - Luther - King Str.8
Letters to Supermarkets and Fish Suppliers
Write requesting that the supermarket / fish supplier "guarantees that
no dolphins, porpoises, or whales were killed in the process of catching
the fish sold in their stores / by their company" - of course, they
won't be able to !!!!
I would be most grateful if you would circulate this information among
I am also attaching an article which my husband, Alan, and I have
written, which we hope illustrates the scale of the problem. The facts
and figures are correct, and have been taken from scientific papers.
If you require further information, please contact us at
We thank you for taking the time to read this information.
Bycatch is the incidental capture of non-target species, in any fishery.
Bycatch poses the most serious threat to dolphins, porpoises and whales.
Cetaceans are protected under the Bern, Bonn (ASCOBANS), and Biological
Diversity Conventions, the Habitat and Species Directive (92/43/EEC) and
are treated as having Appendix I Status CITES, within the European
Union. In the UK, they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside
Act, the Conservation Regulations, and the Countryside and Rights of Way
Act. There are laws and regulations which prohibit the harassment, abuse
and killing of porpoises, dolphins and whales.
However, the fishing industry defies all the conventions, regulations,
and laws under which cetaceans are protected, and appears to be immune
Tens of thousands of cetaceans are dying in fishing nets each year. They
become entangled in tangle nets, trammel nets, drift nets, trawl nets,
gillnets and long lines. The true extent of the bycatch problem is not
known, as many fleets prohibit observers from boarding their vessels.
However, studies that have been carried out, show that the problem is of
A study of the French albacore tuna drift net fishery 1992 - 1993 (when
only 27% of the effort was observed) showed an annual bycatch of 415
common dolphins and 1170 striped dolphins. In 1995, a study of the UK
tuna drift net fishery (when only 28% was observed) revealed that the
annual bycatch of dolphins was TWICE that of the French. These drift net
fisheries are supposed to be phased out by 2002, but, the powerful tuna
fishing lobby, plans to seek a ruling from the European Court to
maintain tuna drift net fishing.
Studies have estimated that the annual bycatch of harbour porpoises in
the Celtic Sea hake gillnet fishery, is of the order of 2237
individuals, but this estimate does not include the bycatch from any UK
boat under 15 metres in length, any Irish boat under 10 metres, any of
the French boats, or any of the tangle net boats. Neither does it
include a proportion of bycaught porpoises which disentangle from the
net during hauling, that are already dead. It is estimated that 6785
harbour porpoises are caught in Danish North Sea gillnet fisheries each
year, and 1000 in the UK North Sea gillnet fisheries.
Many thousands of cetaceans are killed in trawl nets annually, including
minke and pilot whales. The trawlers which cause the greatest problem
are pelagic (mid-water) trawlers. Available information suggests that
potentially high numbers of common, white-sided and striped dolphins are
being killed in trawl fisheries in the North East Atlantic each year.
Further estimates suggest that up to 50 dolphins may be taken in a
single tow by the Irish pelagic trawlers.
The most destructive of all pelagic trawlers, are the pair trawlers. The
Scottish, French and Dutch pair trawlers tow nets of gigantic
proportions. They are so large that 12 jumbo jets could easily fit
inside one net. It is estimated that in a six week period at the
beginning of this new millennium, in excess of 2000 dolphins died in the
nets of French and Scottish pair trawls alone.
It is estimated that 6.2% of the total population of harbour porpoises
in the Celtic Sea is killed each year in fishing nets, and 4% of the
total population of harbour porpoises in the North Sea. The
International Whaling Commission has stated that a continual kill rate
of only 1% of a cetacean population, will render it non-sustainable.
The result of this death and destruction is often seen on European
beaches. A small proportion of bycaught cetaceans are found around the
coasts of the UK, Eire, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Spain and so
February 1989: 600 dolphins stranded in two days in Landes and Vendees,
January - April 1992: 118 dolphins (of which nearly half were positively
identified as common dolphins) stranded in Devon and Cornwall - the vast
majority showing signs of bycatch; in 1993, 20 common dolphins; 1996, 30
common dolphins. This pattern was mirrored on the coastlines of other
February - March 1997: in a three week period 629 dolphins stranded on
the Southern Brittany and Biscay coasts.
February - March 2000: in excess of 600 dolphins stranded on the coasts
of Cornwall, Devon and Brittany.
Of the stranded cetaceans post mortemed by veterinary surgeons at the
Institute of Zoology in London1 1990 - 1997,
34.4% of harbour porpoises were found to be bycatch
60.4% of common dolphins were found to be bycatch
11.6% of other whales and dolphins were found to be bycatch.
39.8% of all cetaceans were found to be bycatch.
(These figures are likely to be an underestimate, as a cause of death
could not be established for nearly a quarter of all those post
Of the stranded cetaceans post mortemed by veterinary surgeons at SAC
Veterinary Science Division, Inverness2, 1995 - 1999,
15.4% of harbour porpoises were found to be bycatch
11.7% of white-sided dolphins were found to be bycatch
16.7% of bottlenose dolphins were found to be bycatch (caught in
illegally set nets)
40.0% of Risso's dolphins were found to be bycatch
40.0% of minke whales died as a result of entanglement in fixed ropes,
such as creel or mooring ropes.
The physical evidence of entanglement in fishing nets or gear are:
Gillnets, trammel nets, and tangle nets: lacerations on the head, body,
fins and tail fluke caused by the net; penetrating wounds, often in the
lower jaw and head area, made by gaffs used by fishermen to remove the
cetaceans from the net; broken bones; broken teeth; internal haemorrhage
and signs of asphyxiation.
Drift nets: lacerations on the head, body, fins and tail fluke caused by
the net; bite marks on all parts of the body caused by scavengers such
as sharks; severed flukes, fins, and tails caused by fishermen using
fire axes to remove the cetaceans from the nets: internal injuries and
signs of asphyxiation.
Trawl nets and gear: deep wounds to the head and body; severed beaks,
fins, and tails caused by fishermen using fire axes to remove the
cetaceans from the nets, sometimes whilst still alive; severe internal
injuries including crushed organs; puncture wounds made by fishermen so
that the body will sink and a quite recent development, beheading the
animal, sometimes whilst still alive, when it has become stuck in the
intake of a fish pump and blocked it.
If an ordinary individual carried out these acts of barbarism, the
legislative procedure would ensure that the individual was punished.
However, the fishing industry appears to be above the law.
The problem of cetacean bycatch is not a hopeless one. There are
measures that can be taken to significantly reduce the number of
needless deaths. Efforts to address bycatch problems in other countries,
e.g. USA and New Zealand, are underpinned by targeted legislation and a
legal framework of wide ranging duties and powers, including the power
of enforcement. In the USA, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act
(Amended 1994), the immediate goal was that the incidental mortality or
serious injury of marine mammals in commercial fishing operations,
should be reduced to insignificant levels approaching zero by 30 April
2001. There has been an assessment of marine mammal stocks; there is a
marine mammal mortality monitoring programme for commercial fisheries,
whereby, observers monitor the degree of bycatch and then Take Reduction
Teams, which develop strategies to reduce cetacean bycatch, formulate
Take Reduction Plans, which are discussed with scientists,
environmentalists, animal welfare groups, fishery managers and
fishermen. The plans are then put into action.
In 1994, it was estimated that 2100 harbour porpoises were killed in the
Gulf of Maine gillnet fisheries each year. In January 1999, a TRP was
put into effect. The deaths of harbour porpoises were reduced to 270.
In the Mid-Atlantic gillnet fishery, it was estimated that an average of
358 harbour porpoises were killed in nets each year (1995 - 1998). After
the introduction of a TRP in 1999, the estimated bycatch for that year
was 49 harbour porpoises.
Take Reduction Plans, incorporate measures such as, observer monitoring,
area closures, reduction in the size of the fishery, pingers on nets and
modification to fishing gear and practice. Enforcement measures and
penalties, that are sufficiently costly, are used to ensure that
fishermen comply with regulations designed to reduce cetacean bycatch.
In the autumn of this year a new type of gillnet is being trialled in
the USA. It is called an" acoustically reflective gillnet". Trials of
this net took place in the Bay of Fundy, Canada, in 1998 and 2000. The
results were so promising that the Scientific Committee of the
International Whaling Commission, endorsed further experimentation with
these nets and the Gulf of Maine Take Reduction Team recommended that a
large scale trial be conducted this year.
In contrast, very little is being done by the Member States of the
European Community to reduce the level of cetacean bycatch. Each country
blames the others for the problem. Each Minister for Fisheries blames
the others and "encourages" their own fishermen to take measures to
reduce bycatch. However, the USA and New Zealand have enforcement
measures and the United Nations Environment Programme's Annual Report
1999, states that "The foundation of any successful international,
regional, or national initiative on environmental protection, is
consensus backed up by law.....there is need for.....detecting and
prosecuting violators". The EU Commission has initiated further research
into the problem, even though there have been in excess of twenty EU
funded reports in the last ten years all showing need for action.
Principle 15 of the Rio Earth Summit states that "In order to protect
the Environment, the precautionary approach shall be adopted by States.
Where there are threats of serious damage, lack of full scientific
certainty shall not be used as reason for postponing measures to prevent
environment degradation". There is no explicit legal provision in
European law to deal with the problem of cetacean Bycatch. Article 6 of
the Amsterdam Treaty provides for the legal framework of fisheries
policy to be amended to incorporate measures to address environmental
concerns. Therefore, the European Common Fisheries Policy could be
amended to incorporate cetacean bycatch mitigation measures, with
explicit provision in European law. It is now time for the citizens of
the European Community to demand these changes, in order to reduce the
number of cetaceans dying needlessly, every year, in European waters
MPs, MEPs, animal welfare organisations, environmental groups, and
ordinary individuals are lobbying the Commissioner for Fisheries, Franz
Fischler, and the Commissioner for the Environment, Margot Wallstrom, to
take action on this issue.
We ask you to write to your MP, your MEP, and the two Commissioners.
We also ask you to write to supermarkets and fish suppliers asking
whether that they obtain their fish from fleets with a low rate of
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Fisheries
200, Rue de la Loi
B - 1049
Commissioner for the Environment
200, Rue de la Loi
B - 1049
Please speak out on behalf of these beautiful, gentle and intelligent
creatures, who cannot speak out for themselves.
1.Data obtained from Cetacean Strandings Investigation (England and
Wales), 2000, Project Report to the Department of the Environment,
Transport and the Regions, P. D. Jepson
2.Data obtained from Cetacean Strandings Investigation (Scotland), 2000,
to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, I.A.P.
Patterson & R.J. Reid
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