“Today I wrote to ministers […] of 22 EU Member States on the issue of accidental catches of dolphins and other marine animals in EU waters, especially in the Bay of Biscay and the Celtic Sea, to urge them to collaborate in search for a solution to this situation”, indicates the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevi?ius, in a statement published on the website of the community executive.
Questioned by the Lusa agency, the European Commission states that the letter was sent to Portugal, France, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Italy, Croatia, Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania.
In the statement released on 25 February, European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevi?ius notes that, across the EU, “accidental catch levels are unacceptable”, which could lead to the “extinction of local populations of protected species”.
The commissioner alludes to reports made by local authorities to exemplify that, between December 2018 and March last year, 1,200 dead dolphins were spotted, probably in fishing nets, on the beaches of the Bay of Biscay, figures that may already be higher.
“In the Baltic Sea, the already small subpopulation of dolphins [of the common porpoise species] is faced with an even greater danger due to static fishing nets and gillnets”, he highlights.
According to Virginijus Sinkevi?ius, this problem occurs "in all EU seas", which is why he advocates that Member States act together to ensure a "full and effective application" of Community laws.
In the statement made available to the press, the official indicates that he has already asked the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea for an “urgent update of scientific advice”, ensuring that he is “totally committed to solving this problem”.
"I will also address this issue in the next Environmental and Fisheries Councils and, based on these discussions, I will work on the next steps to be taken, considering all possible options", he adds.