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A Slow Death For Scotland's Dolphins?

Aug 03,2006 Leon Roskilly

In recent years, a tourist industry worth millions of pounds has developed in the Moray Firth, but operators of the boats which carry sightseers out to look at the dolphins are left wondering just how long the bonanza will last.

As well as the death toll taken by fishermens' nets, it has been revealed that many more dolphins are literally starving to death.

Tony Archer, manager of the Firth Wildlife Centre in Spey Bay, near Garmouth, Moray, was recently quoted (in a story, appearing in The Guardian, April 10th) as saying that 'the colony appears to be disappearing at the rate of about 6% a year', pointing to a lack of food as the chief reason.

Just how much longer can MAFF ignore the fact that many, many more jobs than those of commercial fishermen depend on there being living and sustainable populations of fish in the sea?

They must be made to realise that it is they who should be responsible for the fish stocks. That their job is not simply to look out for the interests of the commercial fishing industry.

Commercial fishing (largely thanks to the failures of MAFF over the years) is a declining, and increasingly unimportant, industry.

On the other hand, tourism related to angling, and those who delight in visiting bird, seal and dolphin colonies is worth many, many times the value of the UK catch.

With the right policies in place, this industry could be made many more times valuable to our national economy than is currently the case.

It is time that their masters told the bureaucrats, and in particular the minister responsible for MAFF, Elliot Morley, that it is time to start telling the commercial fishing fleet to get in line with others whose livelihoods depend on there being fish in the sea.

It is time that they were told that looking after fish, and the creatures of the ocean, is their job, not just looking after the disappearing and destructive fishing industry.

Tell them that, and a properly regulated fishing industry will magically start thriving, sustainable, alongside all the other fish dependent industries which are currently being destroyed.

It is our job to tell their masters what to tell them. (By ‘our’, I mean yours and mine!)

Then maybe, in a few years, our children will take their children to watch the bottle nosed dolphins of the Moray Firth, instead of looking at faded images of what could have been, of what should have been.

Leon Roskilly

Suggested Reading:
The Moray Firth Partnership: http://www.morayfirth-partnership.org/
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR): http://www.bdmlr.org.uk/


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