Set Back For Morley Over Dolphin Conservation –

Set Back For Morley Over Dolphin Conservation Fish Farming Today Published:  10 January, 2003

AN accident in a Dutch port has set back UK Government plans to trial new fishing gear to protect dolphins.A #30,000 trial to test the gear was due to start again last month, but the UK trial vessel was accidentally rammed by a Dutch research boat.

The UK vessel is now in dry dock being repaired, but will not be ready for some weeks.It is not possible to use another vessel for the trial because specialist equipment is needed and already fitted to the now damaged boat.

But the European Commission is now proposing there should be observers on fishing vessels in waters where there could be a problem with cetaceans getting caught in nets. This would provide vital evidence of where this problem is happening.And the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is working on a UK Small Cetacean Bycatch Response Strategy to identify what measures can be taken to reduce the number of small cetaceans accidentally killed by fishing activities in British waters.

UK fisheries minister Elliot Morley said:”I am extremely frustrated by the set back with the new gear,especially when so much progress was being made.The trials will now take place in March when the Sea Bass fishery starts again.”The EC is also proposing the mandatory use of acoustic devices in gill nets in certain areas to protect harbour porpoises.