European Community Regulations
In April 2004, Member States of the European Union reached agreement on a new Council Regulation to reduce the level of cetacean bycatch - the incidental capture of whales, dolphins and porpoises as a result of fishing activities.
The regulations came into force in July 2004 and set out the following action to be taken by Member States:
Compulsory acoustic devices or 'pingers' required on fishing vessels over 12 metres using fixed gear in the North Sea, Channel and Celtic Sea
The use of observers on certain sectors of the fishing fleet to improve knowledge of where bycatch occurs (this data will inform the review of the regulation)
The setting up of pilot projects to monitor: (1) the effects on fisheries where pingers are used, and (2) the by-catch from under 15 metre vessels (these pilot projects will need to meet strict quality standards)
In 2008, all the data gathered by Member States, including information from the pilot projects on the level of cetacean bycatch for the under 15 metre fleet, will be considered in a review of the Regulation
While the Council Regulation has direct effect in UK and Scottish law, the Scottish Government introduced the Prevention and Monitoring of Cetacean Bycatch (Scotland) Order 2005 on 8 June 2005, which provides for the creation of penalties, offences and enforcement powers to enable the enforcement of this Council Regulation in Scotland. A copy of the Order can be found on the HMSO website.