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mammals may well be dying in the same nets used to catch the fish that sits on their dinner plates. It is critical that the UK takes immediate action to ensure that nature is restored and remains protected.

UK waters globally important

There are approximately 177,000 harbour porpoises that ply the waters of the United Kingdom and it is a globally important area for both breeding and feeding. The report cites a number of academic studies and estimates during 2017 anywhere between 587 and 2,615 porpoises were killed with the best guess being 1,098 or roughly three per day.

Real number of deaths must be much higher

The estimates are partly based on data recorded by observers on board a number fishing vessels and that has been extrapolated to estimate the total number of harbour porpoises inadvertently killed by the entire fleet. WWF however believes that the real number may be much higher since the estimate does not take into consideration the nets laid by smaller vessels and the number of dead porpoises that fall out of nets as they are drawn in.

Black spots

The black spots where the number of porpoise deaths are especially high include Cornwall, Kent, Sussex and the coastal waters of the West of Shetland. WWF says the areas that are particularly abundant in marine life tend to attract both large numbers of gill-net fisheries and porpoises. WWF says the UK does comply EU regulations regarding gill net by-catch of harbour porpoises. However, the NGO says there should be alternatives such as hooks and hand lines for catching certain species.