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The Net Effect? - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

The Net Effect? - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

4 The

4 The Net Effect? A WDCS report for Greenpeace identified conservation objectives and a definition of an “unacceptable” bycatch level below which they have undertaken to reduce bycatch. However, these commitments are not being fulfilled. This fact was acknowledged by the European Commission in launching a proposal in July 2003 for a new EC Regulation to address cetacean bycatch. The Commission’s proposal consists of three main measures: • a limit on the length of driftnets used in the Baltic Sea to 2.5 km, followed by a total prohibition by 2007; • compulsory use of acoustic deterrent devices (pingers) in specified gillnet fisheries associated with high levels of harbour porpoise bycatch; and • compulsory onboard observer monitoring of cetacean bycatch in specified fisheries and areas, including fisheries required to use pingers, other bottom-set net fisheries and pelagic trawl fisheries in the Celtic Sea, Biscay, Channel area. The proposal has generally been welcomed by conservationists. However, it has also given rise to a number of concerns about the emphasis on pingers, the adequacy of proposed observer coverage levels, the lack of management objectives, targets or a management framework for bycatch reduction and, more specifically, the absence of any measures, or even stated intent, to reduce bycatch in pelagic trawl fisheries. In conclusion, in order to address effectively the problem of cetacean bycatch in the north-east Atlantic it is proposed that: • Precautionary management objectives must be identified, with the ultimate aim of reducing bycatch to zero. • A management framework for bycatch reduction must be introduced at EU level at the earliest opportunity to ensure that bycatch reduction targets are identified and met. • The proposed EC Regulation on cetacean bycatch must be tightened up and adopted as soon as possible. In particular: • compulsory observer monitoring, with adequate coverage, must be introduced without delay in order to assess bycatch levels in all fisheries that pose a threat to cetaceans, and the efficacy of mitigation measures; • any compulsory use of pingers must be time-limited and accompanied by comprehensive observer monitoring to assess efficacy of deployment and bycatch rates, investigation of any habitat exclusion effects and research into alternative mitigation and fishing methods; and • the proposed length restriction and subsequent prohibition of driftnets in the Baltic Sea must be introduced, with no slippage in the proposed timing. • The European Community must act without delay to introduce measures to reduce bycatch in those pelagic trawl fisheries where levels are problematic. • Environmental impact assessment must be conducted for new fisheries or changes in fisheries policy in order to prevent new problems from arising.

Contents 1. Introduction 6 1.1 Bycatch worldwide 6 1.2 Cetacean bycatch in the north-east Atlantic 7 1.3 Current state of play 8 2. Cetaceans Under Threat 10 2.1 Cetacean species of the north-east Atlantic 10 2.2 Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena 10 2.2.1 Ecology, population and distribution 10 2.2.2 Bycatch of harbour porpoises 11 2.3 Common dolphin Delphinus delphis 13 2.3.1 Ecology, population and distribution 13 2.3.2 Bycatch of common dolphins 14 2.4 Striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba 17 2.4.1 Ecology, population and distribution 17 2.4.2 Bycatch of striped dolphins 18 2.5 Atlantic white-sided dolphin Lagenorhyncus acutus 18 2.5.1 Ecology, population and distribution 18 2.5.2 Bycatch of Atlantic white-sided dolphins 19 2.6 Bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus 20 2.6.1 Ecology, population and distribution 20 2.6.2 Bycatch of bottlenose dolphins 21 2.7 Long-finned pilot whale Globicephala melas 21 2.7.1 Ecology, population and distribution 21 2.7.2 Bycatch of long-finned pilot whales 22 3. Fisheries associated with Bycatch 23 3.1 Overview 23 3.2 Pelagic trawls 24 3.2.1 French pelagic trawl fisheries 26 3.2.2 Dutch pelagic trawl fisheries 27 3.2.3 UK pelagic trawl fisheries 29 3.2.4 Irish pelagic trawl fisheries 30 3.2.5 Danish pelagic trawl fisheries 32 3.2.6 Spanish pelagic trawl fisheries 32 3.3 Bottom-set gillnets 33 3.3.1 Danish bottom-set gillnets 32 3.3.2 UK bottom-set gillnets 34 3.3.3 French, Portuguese and Spanish bottom-set gillnets 35 3.3.4 Baltic bottom-set gillnets 35 3.4 Driftnets 36 3.4.1 North-east Atlantic and Mediterranean 36 3.4.2 Baltic 37 4. Measures to reduce Bycatch 39 4.1 Why cetaceans get caught 39 4.2 Technical mitigation measures 40 The Net Effect? A WDCS report for Greenpeace 4.2.1 Exclusion devices 40 4.2.2 Acoustic deterrent devices (pingers) in set nets 42 4.2.3 Acoustic deterrent devices (pingers) in pelagic trawls 44 4.2.4 Net modifications 45 4.3 Management mitigation measures 45 4.3.1 Effort reduction 45 4.3.2 Time and area restrictions 46 4.3.3 Alternative gear types 47 4.3.4 Emergency measures 47 4.4 Bycatch management framework 47 5. Bycatch regulation 49 5.1 Regulation of bycatch around the world 49 5.1.1 International treaties, conventions and agreements 49 5.1.2 National legislation elsewhere 49 5.2 Existing obligations within the north-east Atlantic 51 5.2.1 Regional conventions and agreements 51 5.2.2 ASCOBANS 51 5.3 Existing EU legislation 53 5.3.1 Common Fisheries Policy 53 5.3.2 Habitats Directive 54 5.4 Proposed EU regulation on incidental catches of cetaceans 54 6. Conclusions and recommendations 56 6.1 Significance of cetacean bycatch 56 6.2 Assessment and monitoring of fisheries 57 6.3 Proposed new EU regulation 58 6.4 Pelagic trawl fisheries 59 Figure 1: Schematic representation of a pair trawl operation 25 Figure 2: Schematic model of the exclusion grid 40 Table 1: Pelagic trawl fisheries known or suspected to catch cetaceans in the NE Atlantic 25 Table 2: Details of French pelagic trawl fisheries sampled during the 1994-95 study 26 Table 3: Comparison of catches between pairs with standard tows and one fitted with a selection grid and associated experimental equipment Appendix 1: Map of ICES fisheries areas 41 in the north-east Atlantic Appendix 2: Details of the French 62 pelagic fleet for 1992 Appendix 3: Table of scientific names 63 of species referred to 64 5

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