Letter: `Pingers' may not save porpoises

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Sir: Your article "Noise to save porpoises' lives" (28 April) highlights the problem of harbour porpoise deaths in fishing nets that seems to be growing in the seas around Britain. The scale of the catches identified suggests that this is putting the survival of our porpoises at risk.

While research into potential solutions is to be welcomed, trials with noise-emitting "pingers" have produced very mixed results, and numerous uncertainties among scientists suggest that they are unlikely to provide the whole answer.

More importantly, this work does not address the needs of the porpoises now. Several international bodies have called for urgent action to address this issue and the last government made commitments to protect this vulnerable species, including in its own Biodiversity Action Plan. At the very least, emergency fisheries management measures should be introduced to reduce catches of porpoises where they are most at risk and to monitor the problem so that long-term solutions can be found.


Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society