In a heartwrenching development, France has been witnessing what is being called the ‘Dead Dolphin Mystery.’ Over 1,100 dead dolphins have washed ashore on France's Atlantic coast since January. The unprecedented deaths have been blamed on aggressive industrial fishing which has alarmed several Animal Welfare groups and has even prompted France’s ecology Minister to launch a national plan to protect them.
At the mass beaching site, many were mutilated by fishing nets. French Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy on March 22, Friday rushed to La Rochelle in an attempt find a solution. French President Emmanuel Macron already has a pro-ecology stance and has often quoted the slogan “Make the Planet Great Again.”
The French ecology minister has come up with some plans, including bolstering research into the existing acoustic repellent devices that are in place in around 26 two-vessel trawlers off the Bay of Biscay, an industrial fishing hub in the Atlantic Ocean. The devices will send unpleasant signals to nearby dolphins and cause them to swim away once activated. But the critics, like Sea Shepherd, an environmental group, say that it will not go far enough, calling this plan of action, ‘futile.’
Lamya Essemlali, Director of Sea Shephard in a recent interview with Bloomberg said, “The number is a record, the highest number since the past 40 years. But we have seen an increase in the bycatch for the past three years and right now, it’s such an alarming rate that the scientists estimate that it can drive the dolphin population to extinction. “
Sea Shepherd has also said that the number of devices is not a long-term solution for the underwater mammals because the move would make the ocean an unhabitable area of noise pollution.
People are not sure of the reason behind the causes for this spike in deaths, but some believe that it is because of the fishing trawlers catching Sea Bass off the Atlantic coast that are responsible for the deaths. Autopsies indicate that the dolphins sustain catastrophic injuries attempting to escape the nets or when trawler crew attempt to cut them loose after they are caught.
“Extreme levels of mutilation,” said the experts at the Observatoire Pelagis, a marine research station at La Rochelle.
The increasing deaths of the dolphin population, the global seafood consumption, and the reasons for their deaths are not just becoming a grave concern for the welfare groups and environmental activists, but for the entire population of France.