WDC visits European Parliament to stop dolphins and porpoises dying in fishing gear!

This week WDC was proud to co-host an event in the European Parliament in Brussels. Led by our friends at Birdlife, the event was a great opportunity to highlight the massive issue of seabirds, marine mammals and turtles dying in fishing gear in European waters.  We talked to MEPs about the scale of the problem and, importantly, what they need to do to stop the suffering. 

WDC at European Parliament with Birdlife, HSI and bycatch experts
WDC at European Parliament with Birdlife, HSI and bycatch experts

You may have been following our campaign to make sure that the UK has strong measures to protect dolphins, porpoises and whales in UK seas, after the UK has left the EU. If you are one of the thousands who have signed our petition – thank you!

To make sure dolphins, porpoises and whales are safe from entanglement in fishing gear (known as ‘bycatch’) in UK seas, we need to make sure that the legislation that comes across to UK law, after Brexit, is good enough to start with. The EU regulations that are supposed to protect dolphins from fishing gear are being reviewed and we have the opportunity to influence this. This means that a lot of my effort is focussed on Europe at the moment and this Parliamentary event was one of those opportunities.

WDC belongs to a coalition of European conservation organisations called Seas at Risk. We each bring different but complementary expertise and knowledge meaning that we are a more powerful authority than if we each tackled marine issues alone. WDC's goal here is to eliminate dolphin, porpoise and whale bycatch in European waters. Collectively, we are meeting with and providing scientific evidence to politicians who sit on the relevant Committees and to other decision makers. They are reviewing and deciding on content and language for this new EU regulation.

WDC and colleagues (including fluffy ones!) working to eliminate bycatch
WDC and colleagues (including fluffy ones!) working to eliminate bycatch

The event yesterday was an important opportunity to highlight the tragic numbers of dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals, seabirds and turtles dying in fishing gear in European waters. Along with our colleagues from other charities we were able to talk with MEPs and different parts of the fishing sector and explore solutions.

There will be a vote in the Fisheries Committee on the proposed new measures in October. The legislation is negotiated between the European Commission, Parliamentarians and the Council and the whole of the European Parliament (including your MEP!) will vote. Whatever is agreed is likely to be finalised before the UK leaves the EU and so will probably form the basis of future UK law too.

WDC has been giving the Fisheries Committee MEPs the opportunity to show their support for our campaign by having their photo taken with our cut-out dolphin.

WDC in European Parliament
WDC in European Parliament

We can’t change these protection measures without you. We will need your help to get better protection for dolphins, porpoises and whales from bycatch in European seas and we will let you know when and what we need you to do!


Big changes must be made. This is not good enough. Too many fishes and animals are bring lost.

I agree we do not do enough to preserve the lives and well being of our precious animals and fish. How these poor dolphins and porpoises dies is sheer cruelty and for what.???????

Brilliant. I hope they listen.We will need to ensure that the UK has laws preventing by catch as well when we leave the EU.

Indeed. That would be desirable. But I'm not hopeful, since it is EU Directives which have obliged British govs to clean up their acts in the environmental sphere.

Also, in relation to the welfare of animals, the recognition of animals as ‘sentient beings’ (2009 Lisbon Treaty. Article 13 of the Treaty) means Member States have to ‘pay full regard’ to animal welfare.

As Compassion in World Farming informed us yesterday, this has not been taken over in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

A tragic side-effect of relentless fishing and severe lack of empathy.
“When the last tree is cut down, the last is fish eaten, and the last stream is poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.” We need to change, even as we demand change in others, so that this Cree prophecy is not our lasting legacy.

legislation to protect animals is essential but what good without enforcement????

According to WWF there's been about a 50% reduction in the amount of land-based wildlife in the last 40 years. I bet the situation could be even worse in the oceans. The relentless extraction of fish and other sea life, all the chemicals and other toxins, plastic, noise pollution, acidification and what about the sea life that needs to breed on land, seals and turtles must be struggling to find anywhere undisturbed now. If things don't drastically change very quickly we'll have done too much damage and the natural balance won't recover. I just can't see politicians being up to the job, too concerned with what corporations want. It'll be too little, too late probably.

Come on, you MEPs, wake up and flex your political muscles. Stand up for Whales, Porpoises and Whales and do all you can to stop them from dying in fishing gear before it is too late. We in the UK will try our damnest best to make our government follow suit.

I hope and pray that our MEPs listen and get the ball rolling to help these ocean creatures. We need to fight for this tooth and nail and make our government and fisheries sort this problem out now. Not next year or the year after. NOW!!!!

It's almost out of sight, out of mind with marine animals, if we can't see it immediately, we don't think about their plight. A lot more needs to be done.