In the « Next world », France has just been called to order by the European Commission, along with Spain and Sweden, for failing to assist endangered dolphins. The three countries » have not taken sufficient measures to monitor by-catch in their waters and by their fleets « said the EU executive in a statement released on July 2. It happens that this decision comes shortly after the death of a well-known ambassador dolphin of the Bretons: Zafar, fished by accident, found dead on a beach in the Netherlands during confinement.
To end the » slaughter of dolphins Deplored by Sea Shepherd, the sea protection NGO which initiated the procedure, Paris, Madrid and Stockholm must propose a solution within three months. Their inaction would bring the matter to the European Court of Justice.
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« The French authorities must be regarded as having been slow to implement concrete actions with regard to the observation of recurrent episodes, since the 1990s, accentuated since 2016, of excess mortality of cetaceans on the Atlantic coast, in particular in the Gulf of Biscay, estimated the Commission. This delay constitutes a failure by the State to comply with its obligations arising from European Union law, in particular its obligation to protect cetaceans and to monitor fishing activities. «
Already in February, the European Commissioner for Fisheries had judged « unacceptable »The number of takes known as« accessories »Of protected cetaceans, among which are often pregnant or lactating females, and small dolphins. Even more than drifting plastic or climate change, fishing is indeed the greatest threat to the species.
Sea Shepherd, which patrols at sea, has many images of animals trapped in trawls, including by boats equipped with controversial sound repellents. It is estimated around 3,500 the number of dolphins caught by accident in the Bay of Biscay alone during the winters 2017 and 2018. And it is not only the giant nets, cogs of intensive fishing accused of wildly emptying the seas , which do damage: large cetaceans are also well trapped in the meshes of small gill-nets less than twelve meters. The NGO quickly wants » draw attention » of the new Minister for Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili « On the fundamental aspect of the preservation of dolphins in France «
After having designated the storms as responsible for such carnage, the fisheries committees and the ministries concerned (Agriculture, Ecological Transition) will have to » face it » and act quickly. This is what Marie-Christine Thébaud, ethologist, specialist in these large marine mammals, asked herself from Nantes, caught in the nets of a mourning difficult to share: Zafar was his friend.
Zafar made its appearance in summer 2017 on the coast of Morbihan. This did not surprise Brittany, accustomed to the graceful wanderings of dolphins attracted by the ports of the Iroise Sea, » fragments of wilderness on the verge of yachtsmen and dumbfounded bathers « , as a colleague from the « Telegram » nicely wrote. This one had chosen Lomner (Morbihan) to show off his good humor and the charming smile of his kind. He was a dolphin « ambassador » – so we call those who go, lonely, and seek the company of men
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» At first it was a shy dolphin, says Marie-Christine Thébaud, and, little by little, he got insurance. Increasingly, the personality of each animal within the same species is supported scientifically; it is the subject of a book as documented as it is moving by Carl Safina, published two years ago, which has become a reference, entitled « What makes animals smile? « (Ed. Vuibert)
Zafar’s reputation crossed borders in the summer when he set out on a quest for sexual adventure, even lifting a Spanish bather from his rostrum (nose), who didn’t take it very well. She immediately went to file a complaint, Landévennec banned all swimming, but Zafar remained popular because everyone has their small faults. And then France confined itself.
The bottlenose dolphin was in the harbor in Brest on March 17 when everyone folded their sails. No more strollers, no boats. It was too lonely for an ambassador. One day, a French delivery schooner, the » Very shadows « , made a stopover in Douarnenez, an old restored rig sailing with the force of its sails, also an ambassador, but of clean and thoughtful maritime transport.
Zafar who was bored in Brest had drifted so far. He saw this boat he already knew, and, happy to find company, followed him, he who was not used to any of them. For three days, he escorted the « Tres hombres « doing their pirouettes on the water and the crew sailed thus to the Netherlands.
In the port of Amsterdam, the water is not very clean. Everything was deserted and silent. Believing to be right, the association SOS Dolfign helped Zafar to cross the locks in the opposite direction to regain the sea. On the evening of May 12, a stroller found him dead on the beach of Wijk aan Zee, the tail cut off.
Zafar was caught in a fishing net. After reading the facts and the detailed report of the autopsy, those close to this case believe that he was brought back alive and that the fishermen cut his tail fin to put it back in the water, rather than taking care of it. untangle the nets. Then the boat hit him violently on the side. Ribs were broken, Zafar had broken bones everywhere and he died of his bruises. Despite the legal obligation, fishermen very rarely declare a dolphin caught by accident. Some would rather try to get rid of it.
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Then the Ecomar Sea Museum got involved, which saw an opportunity to have a large and beautiful skeleton to show to the public. Such pragmatism shocked, but the decision is made. Since then, a petition has been circulating. So that at the side of the framework, in the museum, there is at least one plaque where his name is written and his story told. » To also say who was this dolphin « Explains Marie-Christine Thébaud, who will take the case to the Directorate-General for Fisheries and to Europe. The ethologist wants him not to have died for nothing. Zafar could become the afterlife ambassador for all threatened dolphins. The petition is online on the Athanor-formation Facebook page.