Your daily news portal

Posted by portugalpress on July 12, 2018

Dolphins are at risk of disappearing from Portuguese national waters. So says a group of scientists worried by the high number of dolphin carcasses that have washed up on beaches this year, particularly in the areas between Porto and Nazaré.

They warn that if things don’t change, dolphins could “disappear completely within the next 20 years”.

Bizarrely, the news comes the day after a “super pod” of 3,000 dolphins was sighted approaching the Portuguese coast from Spanish Galizia.

But it highlights the fact that the threat dolphins face in Portugal has very little to do with climate change, or ‘plastics in the ocean’ or any kind of pollution. In fact: it’s all ‘man-made’.

The high number of deaths (27) registered between January and June this year can almost all be attributed to “accidental capture”.

The dolphins will have been caught up in fishermen’s nets, and then “killed” as they were cut free.

“The marks that some cadavers showed, like amputated tail fins or linear marks along the body, show these animals were caught accidentally in fishing nets”, said biologist Catarina Eira, working out of Aveiro university’s centre for the Environment and Sea.

Perhaps in an effort towards diplomacy, Ms Eira doesn’t dwell on how the dolphins will have received their fatal wounds.

But she correlates the location for the highest number of carcasses with the coastal area where most fishing takes place (the waters between Porto and Nazaré). And she says that “in spite of efforts developed by fishermen to avoid accidental captures, seine-haul fishing (using vertical nets, weighted down from buoys) ends up being responsible for a part of the mortality”.

Another issue is “illegal fishing”: rogue boats that stay close to the coast and “also cause some of the dolphin deaths”.

Financed by the Life marpo European project dedicated to the conservation of marine species, Ms Eira and her colleagues are busy investigating how to save dolphins from needless death without impacting too much on the fishing sector. One solution appears to be the use of electronic pingers on nets that could “alert dolphins as they approached”.

The trouble with pingers is that they are expensive, explains Jornal de Notícias.

Thus the plan is to win classification for the Porto - Nazaré area as a Site of Community Importance.

If this happened, the pingers could be ‘paid for’ with community funding, and other measures, like how to combat illegal fishing/ mitigate accidental capture in trawler nets, etc., could be increasingly researched.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

Categories: