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Charity takes plight of dolphins to the European Commission: Marinelife discussing drastic dolphin decline and positive action

Following the reported drastic decrease in dolphin numbers in the Bay of Biscay by wildlife research and conservation charity Marinelife during the summer of 2007, the charity’s Chairman Clive Martin was invited to share its findings in more detail with the EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Joe Borg, in Strasbourg earlier this week on 15th January.

Marinelife believe that the invitation to discuss the situation in Biscay highlights how seriously the EU views the charity’s research and hopes this will highlight the need for urgent action to protect the fragile ecosystem within the Bay of Biscay and safeguard the whale and dolphin populations (collectively known as “cetaceans”) which inhabit these diverse European waters.

The invitation to discuss the issue with the EU commissioner is the culmination of a series of meetings with parliamentary groups in which Marinelife has been involved since publicising its findings in August 2007.

Marinelife researcher and PR Officer, Adrian Shephard commented, “Shortly after highlighting the dolphin decline we were witnessing in Biscay, Marinelife’s Chairman, Clive Martin, gave a presentation to a meeting of LAWS (Labour Animal Welfare Society) during a labour party conference fringe meeting, delegates of whom included Angela Smith MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. This led to an invitation by Robert Evans MEP to present to the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals which in turn led to a request from its President, Neil Parish MEP, for a face to face meeting with Commissioner Borg, Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs”.

Clive Martin said, “The parliamentary meetings have been very productive, allowing me to highlight the importance of the Bay of Biscay and how concerned we are with the dolphin decline seen during 2007. Commissioner Borg was very interested in our research and we discussed a number of measures which, if implemented, could help protect this hugely important European cetacean habitat.”

Marinelife’s Research Director, Dr Tom Brereton commented, “The EU Commission has the power to act quickly on the changes we have witnessed and address major issues affecting dolphin numbers. Creation of a Cetacean Sanctuary within the Bay of Biscay could offer the protection the whales and dolphins need.”

Further meetings have been proposed by Commissioner Borg and Neil Parish MEP between Marinelife and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the UK Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw MP. Marinelife looks forward to participating with a view to swift and decisive action being taken which will offer whales and dolphins in Biscay long term protection.

Marinelife’s unique long term monitoring project, the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme (BDRP) has been conducting scientific monthly whale, dolphin and seabird surveys through the English Channel and Bay of Biscay for the last 13 years, using the P&O Cruise Ferry, The Pride of Bilbao, as a research platform. In addition, a BDRP full-time Wildlife Officer collects daily data on whale and dolphin abundance. The BDRP surveys have detected more than 20 species of whale and dolphin in the Bay of Biscay and counted over a hundred thousand animals.

Adrian Shephard | alfa
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