The tiny cousins of dolphins often get ignored by the media, possibly because they are small, quiet and don’t put on dramatic leaping displays. Yet in Norway, porpoises are being slaughtered in their thousands, although not, in this case, deliberately.
Norway’s gillnet fishing industry as it stands is unsustainable for several reasons, one of which is the enormous amount of bycatch – animals caught in the nets by accident. This includes nearly seven thousand harbour porpoises every year.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, bycatch is the main threat to the species. It is also a complete waste of life – nobody uses the thousands of dead porpoises.
A change to more sustainable fishing methods is the long term solution. In the meantime, there are several ways to at least reduce the numbers killed.
Urge the Norwegian government to take immediate steps to stop the porpoise slaughter.
We the undersigned ask that you take immediate steps to reduce the numbers of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) dying in gillnets.
At the moments, an estimated 6,900 porpoises are killed in Norway’s gillnets every year, an enormous number. One or two individuals might be an acceptable, if unfortunate, accident. Numbers at this level require urgent action on ecological and animal welfare grounds.
Measures to reduce the numbers of porpoises that die in these nets could include acoustic signallers and restrictions on where and when gillnets can be used. A move to more sustainable fishing methods over the long term is also needed.
We request that you formulate an action plan to reduce the unacceptable numbers of porpoises being killed this way.
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