Thousands of Dead Dolphins Found Along the Coast of France
In 2019 alone, the bodies of approximately 1,200 dolphins were found washed ashore along the coast of France. Sadly, these deaths could have been avoided with simple industry and lifestyle changes.
While the exact causes of death are difficult to determine with certainty, the country’s environmental charity France Nature Environment (FNE) indicates that around 93 percent of the bodies showed signs of “accidental capture.” Accidental capture is also known as bycatch, a fishing industry term for the trapping of nontarget species by fishing nets. Bycatch is a cruel side effect of standard fishing industry practices that lead to pain, suffering and death of millions of animals in addition to the target species, who also suffer and die.
It is estimated that up to three times as many dolphins may actually be dying in the waters along France’s coasts, since the bodies of deceased animals often sink to the ocean floor or are swept out to sea and therefore go uncounted. Since 2017, increasing numbers of dead dolphins have been washing up each winter as fishing boats compete with dolphins for bass – a fish species favored by dolphins and eaten by many humans. The difference, however, is that humans don’t need to eat bass to survive.
While efforts have been made to scare dolphins away from boats using underwater sound pingers, the effectiveness of this method has been limited. Environmental organizations are calling for an immediate reduction of large vessels and fishing trawlers, which drag nets along the bottom of the ocean and have been likened to the clear-cutting of forests. It has also been suggested that observers be stationed onboard fishing vessels to ensure that boats are taking adequate precautions to avoid ensnaring dolphins.
The most effective strategy, of course, would be for everyone who has access to plant-based foods to stop eating fish altogether. Unless drastic action like this is taken, the days are limited for the dolphin populations in French and ultimately world waters.