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Thousands of dolphin deaths likely in Spain and France as EU fails to act

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Several marine environmental organisations, including WDC have expressed dismay at the continued inaction of the European Commission, France and Spain, in the face of thousands of expected dolphin deaths in fishing nets in the Bay of Biscay this winter. 

The season in which these needless and cruel deaths reach their peak starts today and continues through to the end of March 2021. Yet the governments of France and Spain remain in breach of their legal duties by refusing to temporarily close the fisheries responsible for the spike in incidental capture (known as bycatch) of the iconic and legally protected common dolphin.

This failure to act comes despite sustained pressure from WDC in October to put emergency measures in place to stop the huge number of deaths. Additional independent scientific advice has also highlighted the need to do so.

Earlier this year, the Commission warned France and Spain to take immediate action to prevent the deaths of dolphins killed every winter. The EU Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevičius had also promised that he would take steps to introduce emergency conservation measures where needed.

However, 1 December has arrived without any decisive action taken by either the Commission or France and Spain to prevent the mass killing of common dolphins this winter.

As France and Spain have neglected to take appropriate action, WDC and marine NGOs (ClientEarth, Seas At Risk, France Nature Environnement, International Fund for Animal Welfare, WWF, Ecologistas en Acción, and Sea Shepherd France) are urging the Commission to immediately introduce emergency measures by closing the responsible fisheries in the area to save as many dolphins as possible.

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