Undercurrent: NGOs, fishing groups claim EU has allowed pulse fishing on false grounds


Undercurrent article from January 9 2018, based on this press release.

As the European Parliament prepares to vote on whether to restore the 1998 ban on electric fishing, or to authorize its wide use throughout Europe, a group of NGOs and fisher organizations have sent a joint letter to the European Commission claiming questions over the morality of its 2006 proposal to lift the ban on electric fishing.

According to France’s Bloom Association, the letter reveals expert scientific advice to the commission was blatantly ignored, and the NGO has requested the European Commission immediately withdraw all provisions concerning electric fishing from its legislative proposal on the technical measures regulation, which will be voted by the European Parliament on Jan. 16 2018.

A number of UK fishing groups, and NGO Our Fish, has also countersigned the letter.

They claim the December 2006 decision to allow a limited number of vessels to use electric current fishing — referring to favorable scientific advice — in fact ignores advice to the contrary.

“Bloom eventually found the document: a STECF (Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries) Report from Nov. 6–10 2006. Contrary to the December 2006 European Regulation, which considers that ‘fishing with beam trawl using electrical pulse current should be allowed’, the scientific advice dated one month earlier warns against ‘a number of issues that need to be resolved before any derogation can be granted’.”

“Thus, not only has the scientific body of the European Commission never approved such derogations, but it even explicitly advised the European Commission against granting any. Under the pressure of Dutch fishing lobbies, the European Commission decided not only to ignore its own committee of experts but also to falsely claim scientific guidance in support of its decision to revoke the ban on electric fishing.”

The NGOs and fisher groups signing the letter to the EU claim this is a fishing method with high negative impacts on ecosystems, yet under EU dispensation vessels utilizing the fishing method have been able to claim millions of euros of public money.

“As things stand, the scale of the financial scandal cannot be fully grasped because the Netherlands fails to publish the file of public subsidies allocated from 2007 to 2014, making it impossible to calculate the total subsidies granted to electric fishing since the introduction of derogations,” said Bloom.

“However, Bloom has managed to estimate the subsidies allocated since August 2015. In just over two years, at least €5.7 million of public subsidies have been allocated for the development of industrial electric fishing fleets in the Netherlands, of which €3.8m come from European funds (67% of the total). These public subsidies have been allocated under the titles of ‘research’, ‘innovation’ and ‘best practices’.”

The Dutch Fisheries Association did not respond to request for comment from Undercurrent News. In November 2017, when the EU proposed the new rules to be voted on on Jan. 16, the association’s head Derk Berends told Undercurrent this was a chance for the practice to prove its sustainability.

“It’s an opportunity for all NGOs and fishermen that are questioning this innovative technique to get all the answers they need.”

Original article: NGOs, fishing groups claim EU has allowed pulse fishing on false grounds