Yesterday we had a call about a cetacean (whales, dolphins and porpoises) washing up dead at Porthcurno. After trips had finished we went over for a look and found a healthy adult female harbour porpoises that had died after becoming entangled in a fishing net. Nets kill indiscriminately and its about time the fishing industry acknowledged this and started working towards a solution.

Dead harbour porpoiseThere are those who are working on scare devices that emit sound to scare porpoises from nets. However this will not help our porpoises all it will do is exclude them from feeding areas vital to their survival. The reason we have by-catch is because porpoises and netters target the same areas; wrecks and reefs offshore where a variety of fish species aggregate and shalllow waters when conditions push sand eels and bass inshore. All pingers would do is exclude pingers from this habitat that is vital to them. Targetted noise pollution is no the way to save our cetacean species from entanglement.

It is time that the industry started to look at ways of modifying their nets in order to mitigate against by-catch. An even better solution would be to move over other forms of fishing. As a consumer the only way to make sure the fish you eat have not led to cetaceans being by-caught is to only eat line caught fish.