Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 5th March 2002.

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Photo of Mike Hancock Mike Hancock Liberal Democrat, Portsmouth South

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many dolphins have been drowned through being caught in fishing nets in each of the last three years in the EU; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Information on the full extent of dolphin casualties caused by fishing is not available.

Sample surveys of the incidental capture of cetaceans have demonstrated that there is a significant bycatch problem in the bass fishery off South West England which is why we are urgently conducting trials of mitigation measures to reduce bycatch in this fishery.

In my recent letter to Commissioner Fischler on the bycatch problem and the need for EU action, I also pressed the Commission to institute an observer programme across the EU to broaden the information available on bycatch.

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