The European Parliament called on Wednesday (16 January) for a ban on electric pulse fishing in the European Union, defying Brussels which wants the experimental practice in the North Sea done on a larger scale.
The parliament, the EU’s only directly elected body, will now try to strike a compromise with the European Commission, the bloc’s executive, and the European Council, which groups the 28 member states.
— European Parliament (@Europarl_EN) January 16, 2018
MEPs voted by 402 members to 232 in favour of the ban, while 40 abstained.
“It is a wonderful victory against a terribly harmful kind of fishing,” said Yannick Jadot, a French member of the Greens group, who took part in the campaign against the practice.
France’s environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, said the French government was also in support of a total ban.
La France souhaite que les pratiques de pêche européennes restent 1 modèle de référence respectueux des ressources naturelles & environnement. Nous saluons le vote du parlement européen en faveur de l’interdiction de la #pêcheélectrique, pratique dangereuse pour la #biodiversité pic.twitter.com/FicM8D5DtV
— Nicolas Hulot (@N_Hulot) January 16, 2018
Pulse fishing involves dragging electrically-charged lines just above the seafloor that shock marine life up from low-lying positions into trawling nets.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 16, 2018
EU rules allow member states to equip up to 5% of their fleets with electrodes, and the method has been adopted in particular by Dutch vessels fishing for sole.
Universal Dutch rage at MEPs voting to ban electric pulse fishing mainly carried out in Netherlands. Conservative Dutch MEP calls it "disaster for hundreds of Dutch families in fishing industry". EU not winning fans in EUsceptic 'core' member state https://t.co/U7rvKJ5RlT
— Mehreen (@MehreenKhn) January 16, 2018
The European Commission wants to maintain the southern part of the North Sea as the venue for pulse fishing but to remove the 5% limit.
Karmenu Vella, the Commissioner for fisheries, argued that pulse fishing is safer for the environment than beam trawling as it reduces carbon emissions and does less damage to the seabed.
Beam trawling involves a large net attached to a heavy metal beam of up to 12 metres in length which is dragged across the seabed, ploughing it up.
Rebecca Hubbard, director for the activist group Our Fish, praised the vote as a “huge win” for European seas, low-impact fishing and the public.
In the Netherlands, fisherman said the decision had not been based on scientific research.
Pim Visser, director of the Dutch fishermen organisation VisNed, told AFP: “We are disappointed because independent scientific data has been neglected, and emotion has won.
“It is clear that the opinion given by the coalition made up Brexit supporters, extreme nationalists, anti-globalisation campaigners and green extremists was judged more credible than independent scientific data.”
Nigel Farage MEP says that the EU Parliament is going to recommend to the Commission to ban electric pulse fishing, like every other jurisdiction. The Dutch have been doing it in UK waters.
— Paul_Henri_Cadier (@PaulHenriCadier) January 16, 2018