Dolphins are causing problems for Balearic fishermen. | R.L.

The number of bottlenose dolphins in Balearic waters is causing some alarm among the fishing community, as they often rip nets in order to eat catches. The fishermen's federation says that this year there have been more than 50 such incidents; these have led to losses of some 20,000 euros.

Given this situation, the fishing sector is seeking aid from the government to counter the losses - both nets and fish. Antoni Garau, the general secretary of the federation, says that Article 40 of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund determines compensation because of damage caused by protected species, of which the bottlenose dolphin is one. He adds that neither the state nor regional governments have as yet structured such aid.

The government's fishing directorate understands the issue but notes that no request has so far come from the federation for compensation. Meanwhile, the government has published a guide to "best practice" to reduce the incidents. This observes that the dolphins learn very quickly that there are new opportunities for feeding and that they can become dependent on the catches. Garau agrees with this assessment.

Discouraging the dolphins through the use of acoustic devices is not an effective solution, according to Biel Payeras of the Alcudia fishermen. In August, some fishermen in Alcudia, Palma and Cala Bona had to give up catching mullet because of the interventions of the dolphins.