Today (on Tuesday afternoon), MEPs from across Europe will vote on a range of fisheries measures aimed to conserve fish stocks, habitats and protected species. The vote will include measures to protect dolphins, porpoises and whales, as well as seabirds, seals and turtles, from incidental entanglement in fishing gear.
Many thousands of dolphins, porpoises and whales die due to bycatch in European waters every year. Here is our briefing on the necessary cetacean bycatch requirements to change this. Better – or worse – future bycatch measures are in the hands of those MEPs who sit on the EU Fisheries Committee.
The conservation groups that we work with in Europe have produced a full report on all the required fisheries measures.
The existing cetacean bycatch regulation is not as good as it could be, and compliance is not as good as it should be, as identified in this new WDC report. So the draft technical conservation measures are a welcome and desperately needed opportunity, except some MEPs are expected to take this opportunity to vote to remove and to weaken existing measures.
We have great concern that unless the bycatch language is significantly strengthened, the repeal of the existing Regulation and adoption of the new technical conservation measures may result in even higher numbers of dolphins, porpoises and whales dying in fishing gear in European waters. This will especially threaten the critically endangered harbour porpoise population in the Baltic Sea and vulnerable harbour porpoise, bottlenose and common dolphin populations in South Western waters.
SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE DICTATES WE NEED TO DO MORE
European and global dolphin bycatch and fisheries experts have written this EXPERT OPEN LETTER calling for better monitoring of fishing fleets and better measures to prevent deaths in all European seas. This call is echoed by the European Regional Agreements for the conservation of cetaceans, ASCOBANS and ACCOBAMS, in their correspondence to the Commission about improving bycatch measures, back in 2016.
With our colleagues at HSI and EIA, we also wrote this piece including on the dire situation for Baltic harbour porpoises that could be prove to be the final nail in the coffin if existing measures are removed.
The next step after this vote is for the measures to be voted in Plenary session in European Parliament, or to be negotiated behind closed doors between PECH and the Council. We will report back once the vote has taken place. You can watch the vote live, from 2.30pm today, on Tuesday 21st November.