Bulgaria is expected next week to ban fishing in areas with populations of dolphins, it emerged after a meeting called by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and attended by the ministers of environment and agriculture and environmental conservation organisations.
It was not immediately clear how those in authority in Bulgaria were to define what an area populated by dolphins is, given that by their nature dolphins swim around.
The July 21 meeting was called by Borissov in response to the numerous cases of dead dolphins washing up on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. So far in 2016, there have been 108 – more than total of 90 found dead on Bulgarian beaches in all of 2015.
Speaking after the meeting, Agriculture Minister Dessislava Taneva said that there would be restrictions on various types of fishing that deplete biodiversity.
Taneva said that it was also envisaged for the “possibility, even the obligation” for nets to be equipped with acoustic devices so that small dolphins would not be entangled in the nets.
Instructions were being prepared for co-ordinating the actions of agencies in the event of a dead dolphin being found.
The year 2016 is just the latest in which there have been large numbers of dead dolphins found on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. Recent years have seen frequent media reports about the cases, with questions raised about what state institutions are doing in response and with no official explanation about the causes of the deaths.
Several reports have pointed fingers at the fishing industry, and most of all at poachers using sea-bottom trawling nets of specifications highly hazardous to dolphins.
The NGOs Save Coral from Bulgaria and Oceanographic Science Club – Romania have been active in the past year in investigating the incidents of dead dolphins on Black Sea beaches.
In 2006, a national network concerning dolphins washed ashore or caught in fishing nets was set up, run by the Institute of Fishing Resources in Varna and with the participation of the Regional Enviroment and Water Inspectorate in the city of Bourgas and the Green Balkans NGO.
On July 21, Save Coral’s Atanas Roussev said that the NGO would take part in the preparation of legislative amendments against the poaching that was responsible for killing dolphins.
The main reason for the killing of dolphins, the poachers’ nets intended to catch dolphins, should no longer happen in the country’s waters, he said.