Dolphins, porpoises and whales are suffering and dying right now in UK seas to put fish and shellfish on our plates.
We know the solutions. We CAN stop this.
What is the problem?
Entanglement in fishing gear is the biggest killer of dolphins, porpoises and whales globally, and it's a major issue in UK seas. It's a truly horrible way to die and, because it happens at sea, many people are unaware of the accidental suffering that takes place to catch the fish we eat.
Nobody wants to catch a dolphin in their net and we know the solutions.
We need your help to push the UK and devolved governments to act.
Which types of fishing gear kill dolphins, porpoises and whales?
- What are they? Gill nets 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.
- What are they? Creel pots are the baskets used to catch shellfish like lobsters, crabs and prawns. 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.
- 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.
Did you know that dolphins, porpoises and whales do not drown. If fishing gear stops them reaching the surface to breathe, when the air in their lungs runs out they suffocate.
We know it's a challenge
The UK’s departure from the EU and coronavirus both present serious challenges for fishers working in UK seas and, like other industries, fishers face hardship. The UK and devolved governments need to take this opportunity to create lasting, positive change that supports fishers and saves thousands of lives.
We want to see gill nets phased out...
We've produced this briefing for MPs.
We're calling on the UK and devolved governments to:
Manage fisheries to measurably and continually reduce bycatch over the next five years
Replace gill nets, which cause the most deaths, with safer alternative gears. Those with the highest levels of bycatch should be replaced by 2026
Invest in new bycatch prevention technologies
Support fishers to implement modifications to fishing gear such as sinking the ground line and using ropeless technologies to remove the vertical line from seabed to the surface in creel fishing
Develop mitigation plans for trawl fisheries that may pose a risk, such as ‘moving on’ when dolphins are encountered
Scale up independent bycatch monitoring on fishing vessels
Work with and support fishers to make these changes
Apply the appropriate standards to all fishing vessels in UK seas