Driftnets said decimating Mediterranean dolphins Monday, November 24, 2003 Posted: 2:03 PM EST (1903 GMT) http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/11/24/driftnet.dolphins.reut/index.html Dolphin washed ashore on the coast of Morocco GENEVA, Switzerland (Reuters) -- Driftnets are killing tens of thousands of dolphins in the Mediterranean despite bans on the fishing method by the European Union and United Nations, a major environmental group said. The Swiss-based WWF-International said fishermen from Italy, France, Turkey and Morocco -- and probably other countries -- were decimating the dolphin population as well as shark and turtle species by using the nets. "Illegal driftnet fishing currently happening around the whole of the Mediterranean results in a massive slaughter of vulnerable species," said Paolo Guglielmi of the WWF on Thursday. WWF marine expert Simon Cripps said the only way to prevent the slaughter "is to make the Mediterranean a driftnet-free sea by enforcing a total ban on all driftnet fisheries." EU member states violating the ban should be prosecuted, the WWF said. The body issued its statement in advance of a U.N.-sponsored Diplomatic Conference on Mediterranean Fisheries starting in Venice on November 25. The 15-nation EU banned all driftnet fishing by member states from January 1 last year and there has been a U.N. moratorium on large-scale driftnets since 1992. The nets, aimed at catching fish varieties, stretch for anything between seven and 14 km (about four to eight miles) and entangle dolphins and other endangered marine species, most of which die or have to be killed. The WWF, formally known as the World Wide Fund for Nature, said the Moroccan driftnet fleet with 177 boats was "the most lethal for Mediterranean marine biodiversity," catching annually 3,000-4,000 of one threatened dolphin variety alone in a south-western part of the sea. This was more than one tenth of the dolphin population of the area, known as the Alboran sea. The WWF said the Italian driftnet fleet, which had 700 boats in the early 1990s, still had nearly 100 boats that had not been adapted despite restructuring subsidies from the EU. France still had 75 boats that did not comply with the Brussels ban, the WWF said.