Dead dolphin, thought to be victim of bycatch, prompts letter to MP

A dead dolphin found washed up on the beach in Thurlestone is thought to be a victim of bycatch and its death prompted a letter to our MP. 

The dead common dolphin - credit Adrian Durant 

Adrian Durant was walking his dog on Thurlestone Sands (also known as South Milton Sands) yesterday morning when he came across the dead dolphin on the sand. He said the tail of the dolphin had been cut off by "a very straight and sharp blade", and was "clearly a dolphin that has been caught in a fishing net, drowned and then very callously disposed of by a fisherman". 

clearly a dolphin that has been caught in a fishing net, drowned and then very callously disposed of by a fisherman

Mr Durant, a Thurlestone resident, said: "If this continues to happen there will soon be no dolphins left in our waters for future generations to enjoy. This is completely unacceptable and something needs to be done before it is too late."

If this continues to happen there will soon be no dolphins left in our waters for future generations to enjoy

To this end, Mr Durant send an email to our local MP Anthony Mangnall calling on him to "take this up to the hughest level as this terrible situation can be stopped if appropriate actions are taken". 

He said: "This type of situaton could be completely avoided if dolphin-friendly fishing nets are used, with 'markers' that dolphins can detect with their sonar. All fishing nets without such markers should be made illegal at the earliest opportunity. 

This type of situaton could be completely avoided if dolphin-friendly fishing nets are used, with 'markers' that dolphins can detect with their sonar

"There is also a lot of illegal fishing going on, such as drift netting and pair trawling, hence the penalties for illegal fishing should be massively increased to discourage this activity. 

"I am also aware fishermen score high political points and the supporting the fishing industry is a major part of your Brexit process. To be seen now to be taking strong action on clamping down on poor fishing practices, including those of foreign fishermen, could earn your Government some well-needed respect. In other words, now is a very good time to do this."

It is always so upsetting to see dead marine mammals wash up on our beaches, especially when it appears to be human hands that caused its death. 

If you find a dead cetacean (whale, dolphin, porpoise) on the beaches of the South Hams, report it to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) who collate all the information about strandings in the UK and occasionally retrieve animals for investigation at post-mortem to establish a cause of death. 

Worldwide, more than 650,000 marine mammals, including dolphins, whales, seals and turtles, are killed or severely injured each year after getting caught in fishing nets, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

South Hams Journal has reached out to Anthony Mangnall MP and The Wildlife Trust for a comment. We will update the story when we receive a reply. 

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