NOW that the tuna season is in full swing, the Department of the Environment and Climate Change has issued a press release to remind anglers who practice sports fishing, as well as recreational boat users, of the need to adhere to the Cetacean Protocol.
The Department’s Environmental Protection & Research Unit will be closely monitoring vessel activity over the coming weeks, particularly sports fishermen employing ‘popping’ techniques, to ensure that the requirements of the Protocol are met.
Anglers targeting bluefin tuna are advised that casting any lines close to dolphins may cause them serious injury. Several species of dolphin use the Bay as feeding and calving grounds. Gibraltar is responsible for their protection in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW), and they are in fact protected by law in Gibraltar and internationally under ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area).
Anglers are reminded that popping in dolphin pods in a manner that can cause injury may result in their fishing licenses being revoked.
The Cetacean Protocol was introduced in 2014 as part of the Marine Protection Regulations and its objective is to protect dolphins and whales in BGTW. Vessels are required to maintain a minimum distance of 60 metres from any dolphin or whale whilst navigating in BGTW.
TheProtocol also establishes a 500 metre radius from the animals within which vessels must travel at a constant speed of no more than 4 knots or no greater than the slowest animal in the group.
A popper is a fishing lure produced in a variety of sizes and colours. The body is hollow, which keeps it on the surface of the water so that as the fisherman jerks the rod the lure pops along the surface using its concave head which in turn throws up bubbles and splashes, which makes this lure very effective for large fish, especially tuna as it looks like a distressed fish to a predator.