Europe Takes Strong Action to Stop Cetacean Deaths

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In a move that will delight environmentalists, the European Commission unanimously voted to adopt a moratorium for naval sonars until an environmental impact study has been carried out to ascertain exactly how much man's noise affects marine mammals and fish. The resolution was passed with 144 votes in favour and just 15 against with 14 abstentions.

In a move that will delight environmentalists, the European Commission unanimously voted to adopt a moratorium for naval sonars until an environmental impact study has been carried out to ascertain exactly how much man’s noise affects marine mammals and fish. The resolution was passed with 144 votes in favour and just 15 against with 14 abstentions.

A recent study carried out by 18 scientific bodies and printed in “Nature Magazine” has helped to raise concern about this issue and confirms that the noise produced by ships’ sonars is a serious threat to marine species and commercial fishing.

In particular the document pays reference to the Canary Islands as the European region most affected by the death of cetaceans, and blames the dramatic increase during 2002 and 2004 on the NATO naval operations that were proceeding at the time. MEP’s are now demanding that member states introduce alternative technology instead of the high intensity naval sonars used at the moment. Other issues of concern surround the impact that the burgeoning tourist industry has on the archipelagos coastal waters.

The large variety of whales and dolphins that can be found in Canarian waters are one of the most attractive of the islands’ natural resources. Throughout the archipelago some forty boats carry over half a million passengers a year on excursions and whilst this type of “eco-tourism” generates more and more income for the islands each year, some environmental groups feel that more needs to be done to educate those involved in the excursion industry.

To this end, the Tenerife Conservacion organisation will soon be launching an awareness campaign to inform locals about the diversity of cetaceans present in Canarian waters and to explain the dangers they face whilst underlining the importance of preserving these fundamental members of the Canarian underwater eco-system.

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James Graham