Locals suspect the dolphins died in trawler nets (Picture: Mercury Press)

The corpses of 10 dolphins found washed up on one beach in just over a month have been blamed on a European trawling rush in the run-up to Brexit.

Eco campaigners say a record number of super trawlers and long-line fishing boats have been fishing near the British coast as the UK prepares to leave the EU’s fishing regulations.

The Bournemouth-based Blue Planet Society say they have spotted 11 of the vessels in the Channel – a record amount fishing in the area at one time.

Retired police detective Dave Bailey claims residents have found 10 dead common dolphins and porpoises washed up on Lannacombe Beach in the past six weeks.

They were said to have no visible wounds besides where seagulls had pecked their corpses, indicating the animals suffocated while trapped in trawler nets.

Activists worry a record number of EU-bound supertrawlers might be to blame (Picture: Dave Bailey/Mercury Press)

John Hourston, 53, a Blue Planet Society volunteer, said: ‘In the last six weeks there have been up to a dozen European super trawlers in the English Channel from Cornwall to Dover.

‘They don’t have any independent observers on board, we have been pushing for the EU to put independent observers in to monitor what they are catching because at the minute we have to just take their word for it.

‘But it’s undeniable the devastation that follows wherever they have been.

‘It may just be a coincidence but it seems strange that such a large number of vessels have been operating so close to the UK coast at this politically sensitive time.

‘Whether they are trying to get in before they get locked out is difficult to say, but they’ve been here since the general election was announced. It’s really touched a nerve with Brexiteers.

‘Just this week, two days before the election, there was the most of these vessels we have ever recorded in the recording operating between Brighton and Eastbourne.’

There are five species of ‘true’ dolphin regularly spotted in British waters (Picture: Dave Bailey/Mercury Press)

He claimed the 260ft-long boats leave devastation in their paths.

Brussels currently sets standardised rules on fishing across all member states through the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Its quota system allows large commercial fisheries to trawl in other countries’ waters.

But Boris Johnson’s government has vowed to take the UK out of the CFP, although there is no imminent change to fishing rules in British waters as the UK will remain part of the regime until the end of the transition period in December 2020 or later.

Supporters of the CFP say it encourages sustainable fishing by managing stocks across borders, while opponents say this can be managed better nationally or regionally.

The UK has said it will set its own quotas to encourage sustainability after Brexit.

The Blue Planet Society have no political affiliation but have lobbied the EU for more control over super trawlers.

Mr Hourston added: ‘The fishing industry has been allowed to run wild.

‘We could be losing tens of thousands of these animals which are getting killed in EU waters every year.

‘If that was a mammal on land, like a deer, there would be outrage. It’s a global disgrace.’





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