Mike Hookem MEP has described EU efforts to keep electro-pulse fishing until 2022 as “a dangerous and greedy delaying tactic, that usurps democracy and could see huge areas of UK’s coastal ecology destroyed,”
Mr Hookem’s comments came after official documents showed the EU is proposing to keep electro-pulse fishing until at least 2022, despite MEPs voting for an outright ban on the practice in January this year.
Fishermen working the UK’s South-Coast, where Dutch vessels widely use electro-pulse – a beam-trawling method that involves live electrodes being trailed along the seabed to ‘stimulate’ flatfish from the sand – blame the practice for making the “seabed like a desert with nothing left.”1
An outraged Mr Hookem - who campaigned for a pulse-fishing ban in the run-up to January’s vote - slammed, “who are these people that think they can ride rough-shod over the only democratic body in the EU bloc?”
“For me, the move to keep electro-pulse fishing shows that the EU couldn’t care less for democracy; only for profit and justification of their flawed actions!
“The EU’s move to keep pulse fishing until at least 2022, is inspired by the influential Dutch fishing lobby, who have ratcheted up their promotion of electro-pulse to fever-pitch since January’s vote. There have also been suggestions by campaign groups of EU malfeasance in issuing scientific licences knowing they are to be used for commercial activities; for irregular investments in the practice, and for ignoring scientific advice.
“If the European Parliament had voted to keep pulse fishing, you can guarantee there would have been no opportunity for a second vote on the issue. For me, the push to keep electro-pulse is nothing more than profit-driven greed!
Mr Hookem continued, “The impact of electro-pulse on the livelihoods of small-scale British fishers is becoming increasingly evident. Fishermen tell me little is left in the wake of the pulse trawlers and once abundant species are now non-existent across the South East coast.
“French, Belgium and non-pulse Dutch fishers are seeing similar issues wherever the Dutch pulse trawlers operate. Recent media reports also claim that electro-pulse vessels were now targeting conservation areas such as Britain’s Dogger bank in the North Sea*.
“This issue also highlights why the UK must regain control of its waters a soon as possible following Brexit. Under the Mrs May’s Chequers proposal, Britain will continue to abide by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and pulse fishing will continue in our waters.
“According to the small-scale fishers I speak to, it would seem there will be little left to reclaim if we allow electro-pulse fishing to continue in our waters.
“The simple fact is, the EU should honour the democratic decision by the European Parliament, stave off a growing environmental disaster, and implement a ban on this highly-destructive practice!”
Several reports have criticised electro-pulse fishing for breaking the backs of cod caught in the electric field; burning fish touched by the electrodes, and eradicating gastropods. Electro-pulse fishing is already banned in many countries worldwide for being ‘too efficient’ including the USA, Brazil, Japan, Korea and China.