Electric fishing at risk

The electric fishing permits are currently at risk. A proposal by the European Commission to allow for pulse fishing in the North Sea under certain conditions has encountered strong objections from several EU member states.
Tessa Louwerens

Photo: Oscar Bos

Minister for Agriculture Martijn van Dam is ‘exceptionally disappointed’, he writes in a response to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. During the vote today in Brussels, the House of Representatives wants the Minister to vote against the EU proposal that states that the Netherlands will only be allowed to use 5% of its fleet for pulse fishing.

Pulse fishing is a method that uses small electric pulses without contact with the seabed. It therefore is kinder to the seabed, lowers fuel consumption and thus results in lower CO2 emissions. At a first glance, this seems like a good alternative for the traditional beam trawl fishing method, in which heavy tickler chains are dragged along the seabed. However, too little is known about the long-term implications of pulse fishing.

To change this, a large-scale research project was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and started in early 2016. The aim of this project is to itemise the long-term effects of pulse fishing in the North Sea. ‘With this study, we wish to predict what consequences pulse fishing will have on a larger scale’, explains project leader Adriaan Rijnsdorp of Wageningen Marine Research.

Until 2020, 84 Dutch trawlers have received an exemption to study the effects of pulse fishing. If the plans are not changed in the meantime, a mere 5 percent of the fleet will be allowed to use the pulse fishing method from then on.

Van Dam states that he will commit to the allowance of pulse fishing if the results of the study will reveal that pulse fishing does not harm sea life and the ecosystem.

Would you like to read more on pulse fishing and this research? Today’s Resource contains an extensive article on the subject.

Read the full article here:

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