Dead dolphin protest seeks better French fishing practices

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Activists stand by four dead dolphins they spread on the cobblestones outside France’s parliament, in Paris, Tuesday Feb. 2, 2021 to urge safer fishing industry practices to protect dolphins from fatal encounters with fishing nets. The banner reads “Thousands of dolphins like these are massacred each year in France so that you can eat fish,” (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) — Activists spread four dead dolphins on the cobblestones outside France’s parliament Tuesday to urge safer fishing industry practices to protect dolphins from deadly encounters with fishing nets.

“Thousands of dolphins like these are massacred each year in France so that you can eat fish,” read a banner they unfurled under the close watch of police.

The activists from environmental group Sea Shepherd unzipped white bags and slid out the bloodied cadavers of two large and two small dolphins outside the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament. The four were found washed up on Atlantic beaches in the Vendee region Monday, according to Sea Shepherd.

Activists have long urged the French government to limit the amount of time that fishing vessels can fish in certain zones, and to require cameras to make sure they are employing humane methods. France has ordered acoustic deterrents on some fishing boats to scare dolphins away from their catch, but activists say that’s not enough.

“The ocean is a minefield. In this ocean we have protected species that are hunting the fish that we are fishing,” Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France, told The Associated Press.

She accused Maritime Affairs Minister Annick Girardin of being “minister of fishers” instead of “minister of the sea” and urged more action. Girardin’s office didn’t immediately comment on the protest or their demands.

A bill is working its way through French parliament aimed at reducing animal abuse. But it doesn’t include the farming and fishing industries because authors wanted to focus on more straightforward — and less controversial — issues such as circus animals.

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