1,100 of the aquatic animals have already been discovered on the country’s Atlantic coast so far, The Associated Press reported Thursday. And the record-breaking figure has already managed to top that of 2018, a research official said.
"There's never been a number this high," Willy Daubin, a member of La Rochelle University's National Center for Scientific Research, said. "Already in three months, we have beaten last year's record, which was up from 2017 and even that was the highest in 40 years."
The fault for the deaths has reportedly been widely cast upon industrial fishing, with a large percentage of them occuring after the animals accidentally got caught in industrial nets, Daubin said.
But it’s reportedly unclear what has driven the 2019 increase.
"What fishing machinery or equipment is behind all these deaths?" he asked.
Activists claim a common practice is for fishermen to cut body parts off the suffocated dolphins after they are pulled up in the nets, as a means to save the net itself.
Autopsies conducted on the animals reportedly exhibited significant mutilation.
French Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy is working to combat the issue. He's suggested boosting research into acoustic repellent devices, which use signals to discourage dolphins from approaching.
However, the animal rights group Sea Shepherd reportedly said they do not go far enough and has already decried such measures as “useless.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.