Revealed: Dolphins suffering ‘slow horrific deaths’ in Australia’s commercial fishing zones

MORE than 110 dolphins have suffered slow horrific deaths after becoming caught in commercial fishing nets in southern Australia in the last two years, it has been revealed.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society and Humane Society International on Wednesday pleaded with the Australian government to step in and stop the slaughter.

The call for help comes after it was revealed 47 dolphins drowned in fishing nets in Commonwealth-managed waters off South Australia and Victoria in the first nine months of 2018.


A further 64 dolphins were killed in the same fishery – the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) – in 2017.

With all dolphins protected under Australian national environment laws, the Coorong fishery off South Australia was temporarily closed in September 2011 following the deaths of 50 dolphins in 12 months.

Australian Marine Conservation Society Campaign Manager, Tooni Mahto, said the Federal Government “has known for some time that dolphins are dying in fishing nets”.

“Last year 64 were killed, and the fishery is on track to beat that number by the end of 2018,” Ms Mahto said.

“If the Australian Government wants to champion sustainable Australian seafood, it needs to urgently clean up its act, because every week our beloved dolphins are drowning in fishing nets to bring fish to our plates”.

Alexia Wellbelove, Senior Program Manager at Humane Society International said the dolphins were suffering slow horrific deaths.

“The fishery’s managers must make greater efforts to stop the catch of dolphins, in line with what the Australian public expects,” Ms Wellbelove.

“The fishery uses gillnets which hang in the water and are used to target intended catch species, but also entangle bottlenose and common dolphins that can’t easily see or locate them in the water.

“The Government has a responsibility under our national environment laws to protect dolphins from fishing activity.

“Setting aside some areas of the ocean where dolphins can be safe from the threat of fishing should be an essential part of a modern fisheries management regime”.

AMCS and HSI are calling on the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Richard Colbeck, to ensure areas where a high number of dolphins are being caught are closed to fishing activity.