Earlier this year the European Commission told France and Spain to close certain fishing grounds where the most dolphins die from December 1 to the end of March next year. Then in June, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevicius, promised to take steps to introduce emergency conservation measures if member states did not act themselves.
But the Whale and Dolphin Conservation charity (WDC) says the deadline has passed without any action taken by the Commission, France or Spain.
WDC said that in the Bay of Biscay alone, about 1,200 dolphins a month are expected to die as a result of “bycatch” before April.
Its study in the journal Marine Policy said urgent action is also needed to protect harbour porpoises in the English Channel and the Celtic Sea, which includes the Bristol Channel, as well as the Baltic and Black Seas.
Humpback and minke whales are at risk in Scottish waters, while bottlenose dolphins are threatened off southern Spain.
WDC’s Sarah Dolman said: “If the EU were to ensure member states implement measures to ensure compliance with EU laws, we would have a good chance to save the Baltic porpoise from extinction.”
It would also save many thousands of dolphins, porpoises and whales from suffering a “horrible death”, she added.