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Risso's dolphin at surface

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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

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Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

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Who is eating the dolphins in the Channel?

Its all well and good the British blaming the French for, well everything, but can the British actually believe that French fishermen are eating dolphins? Well it seems the media think so. The UK’s press ran articles a few days ago trailing that ‘dolphins had been filleted’. And this is not the first time this has happened. In the past French fishermen had quite a taste for dolphin.

As can be seen here on this old cigarette card (from 1928) the hunting of dolphins was more widespread than we would have liked to have believed. The card is too small to read here, but it actually says,

‘Dolphins often appear in the Channel and off the Cornish coast, where they are sometimes caught in nets…In France their flesh was formerly esteemed a luxury, and under the impression that it was fish, was allowed on fast days!. Dolphins, like Whales are not fishes, but mammals.’

But the question is why is it happening again? Is it just some cruel individuals, or is austerity meaning that people are doing the unthinkable or is it something else? 

We have recently seen a spread of marine bush-meat consumption across parts of the world as people hoover up remaining fish stocks, but its been a while since fishermen turned back the years in Europe. Around fifteen years ago dolphins were washed up on the Cornish coast with similar injuries. Questions were asked then of why would someone do such a thing.

Well it’s illegal and it’s immoral, and the sooner it’s stopped the better. At the same time Europe has to address the source of this problem which is the bycatch of these creatures in fishing nets. It’s no good governments saying its terrible that dolphins are dying when consumed whilst not also condemning the slaughter of these remarkable cetaceans in fishing nets.

Yes, if its proven its terrible that someone has eaten dolphin, but why were they caught in the first place?