Net Trial Results Are Good News For Dolphins –

Net Trial Results Are Good News For Dolphins Fishing Monthly Published:  21 May, 2003

FURTHER sea trials of new separator grids in the nets of boats fishing for sea bass in the seas off south west England suggest that a viable means of minimising dolphin by-catch in this fishery can be attained very soon

These are preliminary results and scientists at the Sea Mammal Research Unit of St Andrews University, undertaking the work on behalf of Defra, will require some weeks to produce their full report.

The very significantly reduced mortality rate overall in these trials compared with observations on boats over previous years is extremely encouraging, UK Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley has underlined. Two animals died in 82 hauls over a seven-week period beginning in March, a significant reduction in what is normally observed to be the case. In observations elsewhere in the fishery without the grid deployed, 28 dolphin casualties were recorded in 49 hauls.

The trials form part of the Government’s strategy for cetacean by-catch, which includes a legal requirement for certain UK fishing vessels in the Celtic and North Seas to use acoustic deterrents (“pingers”) with their nets.

Mr Morley said it is disappointing that any died in the nets but he was confident that the grid system can be refined to prevent this in future years.

Derek Duthie, administrator of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association said the results were good news, although the dolphin by-catch issue had not really been a big problem in the sea bass fishery for the Scots.It tended to be sporadic.