From: Darren Ennis, Reuters
Published December 21, 2005 12:00 AM

EU States Face Legal Action over Whales, Dolphins

BRUSSELS — EU member states must do more to protect their dolphins, whales and porpoises from dangers like pollution and illegal fishing or face legal action, the European Commission said on Tuesday.


Brussels has taken the first legal steps against eight countries after receiving numerous complaints from marine life campaigners that they are not doing enough to monitor and protect their marine mammals.


"We cannot discuss specific complaints, but many of the well-known groups have contacted us," a Commission official told Reuters.


"These nations have all failed to establish effective surveillance systems and need to take corrective action to ensure full protection of their marine mammals."


The countries facing legal action are Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK.


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They could end up before the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) if they fail to tighten up their monitoring.


"All these species require strict protection," the commission official said.


Under EU law, whales, dolphins and porpoises are classed as "species of community interest," obliging governments to look after them.


According to the UK-based Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), 28 such species have been sighted in European waters in the last 25 years, including more than 100,000 minke whales at certain times of year.


Member states must designate special conservation areas for the bottlenose dolphin and harbour porpoise and must monitor the conservation status of each species.


The Commission says Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK are not monitoring dolphin populations often enough while France, Spain and Portugal monitor only some species, and Greece and Italy have no national strategy at all.


Source: Reuters


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