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Not in our nets – get involved with our new campaign

As new government fishing policies are put together, now is your chance to tell ministers that they must stop dolphins dying in fishing nets around the UK.  It's easy to have your say - just follow the link to our action page where you can send our ready-made email and/or a prepared tweet.

Porpoise in net with hashtag

Tell ministers you expect action - send an email or a tweet

Watford goalkeeper, Ben Foster, is supporting our campaign.

Campaign support

We’re proud that Watford FC and former England goalkeeper Ben Foster is supporting our campaign. Ben said:

'It’s my job to keep things out of nets – to make important saves. So I got involved with the #NotInOurNets campaign to use my role in football as a platform for change, to help save whales and dolphins and keep them out of nets.

Around 1,000 goals hit the back of the net in a Premier League season, and more than 1,000 dolphins and porpoises die in UK fishing nets every year. By putting pressure on our fisheries ministers, we can keep dolphins safe in UK seas.'

The problem

Globally, hundreds of thousands of dolphins, porpoises and whales die in fishing nets every year – it’s the single biggest killer of dolphins and whales worldwide.

Like you, dolphins, porpoises and whales breathe air. When they get caught in a fishing net or rope and can’t reach the surface to breathe, they panic and can sustain terrible injuries before suffocating to death. It’s a horrific way to die.

More than 1,000 dolphins, porpoises and whales die this way in UK seas every year, but ministers have a legal obligation to prevent these deaths.

You can see the wound where the nylon net cut deep into this poproise's tail. © CSIP-ZSL
You can see the wound where the nylon net cut deep into this poproise's tail. © CSIP-ZSL

Legal duty

When Britain left the EU we needed legislation to manage fishing in the waters around the UK and so the Fisheries Act 2020 was created. With your support we campaigned hard to make sure this Act included a commitment to stop dolphins, porpoises and whales dying in fishing gear as ‘bycatch’ – and we won!

Thanks to this success the UK and devolved governments have a legal mandate to prevent and, where possible, end the bycatch of dolphins, porpoises and whales as well as other species, such as seabirds, sharks and seals.

This is an impressive ambition, but how will they achieve this? What measures do they intend to put in place to actually stop dolphins, porpoises and whales dying in fishing nets and ropes?

The solution

Initiatives such as changes to fishing gear, no-fishing zones and restrictions in certain areas at specific times of the year would save lives as soon as they are introduced. Much improved scientific monitoring of bycatch levels is long overdue, including on trawls, where bycatch can be unpredictable.

Too little has been done for too long. We need a sense of urgency from governments that have dragged their feet on this. We need ministers to set clear and ambitious goals to prevent bycatch, and timelines for achieving these goals. We need solutions, not more talk.

Which types of fishing gear kill dolphins, porpoises and whales?

Gill nets
Original illustration by richardpalmer.com, edited for republication

Gillnets

  • What are they? Gillnets or static nets hang in the water catching any creature that swims into them.
  • How many UK deaths each year? More than 1,000 porpoises and hundreds of dolphins, including 250 common dolphins.
Creel rope
Original illustration by richardpalmer.com, edited for republication

Creel ropes

  • What are they? Creel pots are the baskets used to catch prawns, crabs and lobsters. The ropes that join them together and those used to pull them up from the seabed are a danger to whales who get tangled in them.
  • How many UK deaths each year? Around 30 minke and 5 humpback whales die in these ropes in the seas around Scotland.
Trawl net
Original illustration by richardpalmer.com, edited for republication

Trawl nets

  • What are they? Trawl nets are dragged behind a boat scooping up whatever creatures are in its path.
  • How many deaths each year? We don't know how many dolphins die in trawls in UK seas but around 10,000 common dolphins, considered to be from the same population, die in these nets in neighbouring Bay of Biscay.

Push for change

The UK and devolved governments are working on new proposals and have opened a public consultation to gauge what people think. This is our chance to influence the policies – we need to push the governments hard to make the rules as strong and effective as they have to be to save more than 1,000 lives every year.

We need to start with the areas and fisheries where most whales and dolphins are dying. The most urgent to address are harbour porpoise deaths in gillnets in the Celtic Sea, bottlenose and common dolphin deaths in gillnets in the south-west of England, and humpback and minke whale entanglements in Scotland, where whales get tangled in the ropes used to connect the creel pots that catch prawns, crabs and lobsters.

There is no good reason to wait for action. If we save whales and dolphins, we stop the suffering, create a healthier ocean to help fight the climate crisis and ultimately save our planet.

Please have your say

It's simple and easy. It'll take less than five minutes and you could save lives.

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About Julia Pix

Communications manager - Public Engagement

1 Comment

  1. Rebecca Mitchell on 13th April 2022 at 10:35 am

    It’s beyond belief in this day and age that our species is still able to be so destructive to the planet and to all its wonderful inhabitants. Humans are causing life on Earth to vanish. We are a parasite on this beautiful planet. 😥

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