Dutch MEPs are set to lobby Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius over the reopening of the debate on Electric Pulse Fishing which is currently under a ban in the European Union.
A report released last week by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), an intergovernmental agency, concluded that the controversial fishing method should be legalised. The report was commissioned by the Netherlands Government after it failed to have the pulsor system of fishing legalised in the European Union.
Any means of fishing using electricity or by explosives was banned in Europe in 1998. In 2006, the Dutch were given a derogation to experiment with electric pulse fishing for scientific purposes but in February last year, the EU decided that there were too many risks involved with the fishing method.
The ICES report has now given the Dutch fresh momentum to sway the European Commission’s opinion on electric pulse fishing and they are asking their MEPs to spearhead the drive.
Dutch MEP and vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, Peter van Dalen, believes the scientific reports published by ICES make it clear that pulse trawling has a significantly lower impact on the environment than conventional beam trawling.
Together with fellow MEPs Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Bert-Jan Ruissen and Jan Huitema, Peter van Dalen has sent written questions to European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius in response to the published study.
The group is calling the electric pulse fishing ban unjustified and are asking the Commission if it is aware of this work done by ICES and what its views are, and whether or not the Commission will make an amendment to the Technical Measures Regulation?
They are also asking the Commission’s point of view on whether or not the decision to ban pulse fishing was unlawful and premature, considering there was no final scientific study of pulse fishing at the time the decision was taken.
“In the EU, we take decisions on fisheries based on scientific studies. There is now a study by ICES on pulse fishing, which includes ten years of research. Pulse fishing is very beneficial both ecologically and economically. The ban on the pulse must be removed,” Peter van Dalen said.
Even though the majority of the European Parliament voted in favour of banning electric pulse fishing, the Dutch have failed to accept the democratic decision of the Union.
The European Parliament vote allowed for the gradual winding down of electric pulse fishing and the method will be phased out by mid-2021 but Dutch fishing companies have been accused of rigging other EU registered fishing vessels for the fishing method.
Peter van Dalen says that the vote went this way partly because pulse fishing was seen to be bad for the environment, while the work done by ICES now shows this not to be the case.
“In particular, the lobby from France and some dubious non-governmental organisations was very strong. Most Dutch MEPs have contested that prohibition,” he said.
“The ICES report is a basis for re-opening the discussion about the ban on pulse fishing. That is what we are going to do now.”