Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Dead dolphins again wash up on shores of Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast

Summer 2015 is again seeing numbers of dead dolphins washing up on the shore of Bulgaria’s Black Sea coastline, with violence suspected as the cause of death in some cases, but as in all previous years, there is no clarity on what causes the phenomenon.

In some cases in previous years, there have been allegations of dolphins being shot or otherwise killed by fishermen protecting their nets.

None of these allegations has been proven and no one has been arrested in connection with the killing of a dolphin along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast for years. Activists have alleged that police show scant interest in investigating the cases.

There are three species of dolphins in the Black Sea off Bulgaria – the short-beaked common dolphin, the harbour porpoise, and the common bottlenose dolphin – all of them protected by law. The penalty for killing a dolphin from any of these species is 5000 to 20 000 leva (about 2500 to 10 000 euro) and imprisonment of up to five years.

Bulgaria’s Biological Diversity Act also bans harassing, chasing or capturing dolphins from these species, and says that if a dead dolphin is washed ashore, it should be moved until examined by the Regional Enviroment and Water Inspectorate to establish the species and to report on the death of the Minister of Environment and Water.

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.

In 2015, dead dolphins have again made headlines in Bulgaria, the total since the beginning of the year running to 26 by the beginning of August.

According to the Regional Enviroment and Water Inspectorate in Bourgas, violence was suspected to the cause of death in three cases.

A report by Bulgarian National Radio said that, “according to experts”, the number of dolphins washed ashore was not large considering their rapidly growing population.

Causes of death are estimated to include, besides natural causes, entanglement and strangulation in fishing nets, as well as diseases.

To prevent entanglement of marine mammals in fishing nets, it is possible to use special devices attached to the nets to deter animals such as dolphins, according to Krusto Popov, an official in the biodiversity department of the Environment Ministry. He said that Bulgaria was beginning a pilot project to test the effectiveness of these devices...


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