Hundreds of mutilated, dead dolphins which had been caught in nets have been discovered on a beach in France.
Thousands of the animals are accidentally caught by the offshore fishing industry each year. Many wash up on beaches on France’s Atlantic Coast, and are collected and piled up in Les Sables d’Olonne, near La Rochelle, by local authorities.
The dolphins were found by volunteers from Sea Shepherd France, who explained they are dumped there each week before being sent to a rendering plant.
— Sea Shepherd (@seashepherd) March 15, 2019
The animals had suffered fractures, snapped tails, broken flippers and deep wounds as a result of nets cutting into their flesh, the Independent reports. The fishing nets capture everything in their path, causing the dolphins to die by drowning.
Trawlermen then cut the dolphins open in an attempt to make them sink and disappear, but still many wash up on shore. Though, according to Sea Shepherd, scientists have said only 20 per cent of the dolphins killed eventually wash up on the beach.
As over 700 bodies have been found since the end of December, it’s possible several thousand have already been killed this year.
The huge death toll caused from fishing could lead the species towards extinction. Sea Shepherd explain scientists are concerned because dolphins are slow to reproduce their few offspring, meaning by the time the decline in their population is visible, it’s usually too late.
Attempts to resolve the issue could be made by identifying the fishing vessels responsible, by monitoring them with on-board cameras, however France gives its fishermen the choice to refuse independent observation.
Upsetting footage of dolphins being caught in nets can be seen in the video below:
Sea Shepherd captures footage of more dolphins killed in fishing nets off French Atlantic Coast. Help us stop this needless slaughter https://t.co/VYMSPPXqwk #OpDolphinByCatch #France pic.twitter.com/aGLMzrX0ji
— Sea Shepherd (@seashepherd) March 1, 2019
Lamya Essemlali, President of Sea Shepherd France, spoke about the awful situation, saying:
When will the law require this? How long is the government going to let a handful of people block any progress on this issue? How can we explain the fact that fisheries committees have such power and impunity in this country?
It has to be said that apart from the declarations of intent issued by press releases every year, the government does not take the problem seriously and is mainly concerned about protecting the needs of fishermen.
Thirty years of meetings and discussions with the fisheries committees have led to the catastrophic situation we are in today. The time for discussion is over, there is an urgent need for action.
In just a small portion of France's coastal waters between Vendée and Charente Maritime, up to 10,000 dolphins are killed each winter caught in fishing nets, in comparison, Taiji, Japan's infamous dolphin hunt, usually kills less than 1,000 dolphins.#DolphinAwarenessMonth 🐬 pic.twitter.com/OYzS4X3nT6
— Herbiⓥore (@herbivore_club) March 10, 2019
French fishermen reportedly consider dolphins to be accidental catches, even though they are protected by international conservation law.
Changes need to be made to the law in order to prevent the huge toll of dead dolphins growing even larger.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.