boris fact-checked hoover trawlers electric trawling

British PM Boris Johnson has been fact-checked by BBC Reality on his claims of banning electric trawling and foreign hoover trawlers

BBC’s Reality Check team has fact-checked several claims made by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday mornings Andrew Marr Show.

PM Johnson made several claims on the show one of which was that by leaving the European Union, the UK Government could now ban electric-pulse fishing.

He told presenter Andrew Marr, “One of the first things we’ve done on day one is get rid of pulse trawling.”

But as BBC Reality Check pointed out:

“Pulse trawling, which involves the use of an electric current to force fish off the seabed making them easier to catch, was indeed banned in UK waters on 1 January 2021.

“But France and Belgium – both EU member states – had already outlawed the practice in their territorial waters (which stretch up to 12 nautical miles from the coast). The UK could have done the same when it was still a member of the EU.

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“An EU-wide ban was also passed into law in June 2019 and is due to come into full effect on 1 July 2021.

“Pulse fishing has become less common over the past few decades in EU waters.

“There were eight vessels – seven from the Netherlands and one from the UK – using the technique in UK waters between January 2019 and June 2020, according to ocean conservation charity the Blue Marine Foundation.

“Four were fishing within UK territorial waters and therefore could have been banned by the UK, before it left the EU.

“But the other four boats, which were operating within the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone (which stretches up to 200 nautical miles from the coast) but beyond UK territorial waters, could not have been outlawed, while the UK was in the EU.

“Now, the UK is an independent coastal state so it can ban them.”

Another claim made by the PM is the reinforcement that misinformed members of the public actually believes about fishing. He told the Marr Show:

“We will soon be able to ban these huge hoover trawlers that come in and hoover everything off the of the sea.”

Sorry Mr Johnson. There’s been a lot of innovative fishing techniques but there isn’t a hoover trawler in any fleet in the UK or the EU.

As the BBC Reality Check team say:

“Mr Johnson is likely referring to super trawlers here (as “hoover trawlers” isn’t a widely recognised term). Again, we asked the government but it did not clarify this.

“Super trawlers are typically defined as vessels over 100m in length – 25 of them fished in UK waters in 2019, according to Greenpeace.

“Most had a Russian or Dutch flag, except one vessel – the Frank Bonefaas – which sails under a British flag but is majority Dutch-owned.

“Now that the UK has left the EU, it can ban super trawlers from fishing in UK waters, but – under the terms of the Brexit trade deal – this rule must apply equally to UK and EU boats.

“This is further complicated by a section of the agreement, which secures access to the UK’s territorial waters (between 6-12 nautical miles) for any vessel active in those waters between 2012-16. This measure would – in theory – apply to several super trawlers.

The Marine Management Organisation has already granted temporary licences to at least seven super trawlers (six of which are registered in the EU) to continue fishing in UK waters beyond 31 December 2020.”


Brian J McMullin Solicitors
MMG Welding Killybegs

Boris fact-checked on banning Electric Trawling and Hoover Trawlers

by editor time to read: 7 min