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WDC joins calls for release of captured harbour porpoises held at Danish facility

Breaching porpoise

Calls are growing for authorities in Denmark to release two protected harbour porpoises still held at a research centre after initially being trapped in fishing nets.

The porpoises are currently being kept at the Fjord & Bælt Centre.

"A few months ago, two young porpoises were living free in the sea. Now, unless we can persuade the authorities in Denmark to allow them to be released, they face the rest of their lives in captivity", explains WDC's Cathy Williamson.

WDC has recently assisted the Dolphinaria-Free Europe (DFE) group with letters to the Danish authorities raising concerns about permits issued to the facility and subsequent new young porpoises being acquired for their research project.

In a new joint NGO letter to the Danish Minister of the Environment, Leo Wemelin, and Rasmus Prehn, the Danish Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, an independent assessment of the two harbour porpoises at the facility has been requested to determine their suitability for controlled release.

Harbour porpoises are a protected species. In most countries of the world, including Denmark, whales and dolphins entangled in nets (known as bycatch) must be released immediately after a short rehabilitation period. The only exception is if they are assessed as too weak or injured for immediate release back into the wild.

Regulations in Denmark only allow certain persons or institutions to rescue and rehabilitate whales and dolphins and Fjord & Bælt Centre is not one of these institutions. Nevertheless, Fjord & Bælt has received exemptions from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1995 and is allowed to take in harbour porpoises.

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