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24 September 2014
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Whales and Dolphins


Common dolphin
Common dolphins in Guernsey waters.

Common Dolphin

Common dolphins are often seen in the waters around Guernsey and Alderney. However they are facing problems from pair-trawling.


Common dolphin are small cetaceans measuring around 1.7 - 2.4 metres in length (adults) and have a dark almost black back, with yellow flanks and a grey tailstock.

They prefer the deeper waters found off Guernsey and Alderney.

Common dolphins weigh about 150 kg and feed on species such as mackerel, sea-bass and pilchard, which form part of their staple diet.

Little is known about the life-span of Common Dolphin, however, this species is known to be under threat from a form of fisheries called "Pair trawling".

Various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have called for the prohibition of pair-trawling or temporary closure of the fishery following a dramatic rise in the number of dolphin deaths which are linked to this form of fishery.

La Société Guernesiaise in association with the Guernsey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) and a dolphin-welfare campaigner, Carol Hansford in Jersey, collected over 17,500 signatures in 2001, as part of a petition calling for the banning of pair trawling and the introduction of other dolphin-friendly measures as part of the reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy.

The petition was handed into Number 10 Downing Street.

As a result of conservationists concerns, the British Government Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), has undertaken research into the by-catch problem in which non-target species such as cetaceans and other marine life are incidentally captured by fisheries.

The research has been carried out by the Sea Mammal Research Unit in St. Andrews, Scotland. DEFRA has also published a Small Cetacean By-catch Response Strategy following consultation with various stakeholders including La Société Guernesiaise.

The EU has also announced that it will be bringing proposals to the EU Parliament to help to mitigate the risk to cetaceans from by-catch.

La Société continues to lobby the EU to implement wide-ranging by-catch mitigation measures and abide by the terms of the EU Habitats Directive and international agreements on the conservation of small cetaceans such as ASCOBANS.

last updated: 10/06/05
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