European parliament votes to end electric pulse fishing

Just a few days ago the European Parliament massively voted (402 yeas / 232 nays) in favor of banning electric pulse fishing. In France this topic is very significant, especially in the press, bringing together a large number of traditional fisherman associations, NGO's, fishmongers and head chefs.
But what is it all about ?


Chalut électrique

Photo Frederike Arndt.Skrei Norwegian Seafood Council .



The electric pulse fishing is a fishing method mainly used on flatfish. It consists in "taking the flatfish off" by doing an electric pulse and then pick it up in the trawl.
This fishing method provides great benefits : by not scrapping the ocean floor, the fuel consumption is way lower than usual, and the ocean floor remains untouched.
The electric trawl was presented as a breakthrough in preserving the environment by its proponents. The fishing method is forbidden in Europe but a derogation allowed every country to outfit 5% of its fleet in order to study its consequences. In practice, only Dutch fisherman used it.


The European Commission suggested to extend the exemption, which has led to a strong mobilisation coming from strong reculants, notably on small fishery (Life), fishmongers (PDF), NGO's (Bloom) and head chefs. 
There are indeed a very few independent scientific informations about the real impact of this fishing method for the environment. But many players suspect the electric pulse to have a big impact on non-targeted fish, especially on the one that are too small or non-commercialised. 
The burn and bone breaking risks seems proved, and the fisherman from Dunkerque and Boulogne-Sur-Mer declare to find a catch decrease in the Dutch fishery areas. The fish quality may also be concerned due to burns from the electric pulse.
Another matter around this fishing method : the 5% exemption may have been largely exceeded by Dutch fishery, far from the initial scientific goal.


Despite what the press writes, the debate is far from being closed since scientific researches are coming with inconsistent informations, leading to various opinions.
The European Commission disagreeing with the Parliament, this topic will be discussed between the European Commission (in favor), the European Parliament (against) and the European Council.
The European Council, representing all government of the state members, will be the referee.


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