The ban on electric pulses in fishing was originally introduced in 1998. However, after just eight years, it was revoked by the European Commission despite concerns from environmental groups as to the effects it has on marine life. Although the method has been commonly used since being made legal again, there have now been calls from groups across Europe to reinstate the ban over claims that the method is too destructive.
Others have argued that electric pulse fishing can, if used correctly, be less problematic to the environment than alternative methods. Itâ€™s also been noted that the EU are still unclear as to how many vessels are actually using the technology, or what the effects of it are. Despite this, campaigners from The Black Fish, Low Impact Fishers of Europe and Bloom have all written to the European Parliament calling for new and less damaging techniques to be used instead, and the matter will now be put forward for a re-vote.
Barrie Deas, the chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermenâ€™s Organisations (NFFO), said that the use of pulse fishing has caused an increase of fishing in certain areas, as the technology allows fishing vessels to be used in softer ground, resulting in catching more expensive types of fish.
He added that governments need to do more to protect sensitive fishing grounds from this technique as it could be causing irreversible damage. â€śPulse fishing is a highly controversial and emotive issue at present. The extent to which pulse fishing is more or less impactful on the marine environment than conventional beam trawling is currently being studied. The outcome of this research will be significant in shaping future policyâ€ť he said.
The Green party MEP Molly Scott Cato also commented that â€śWe are opposed to any expansion of pulse fishing, which seems pretty barbaric and causes unnecessary suffering to fish. While the use of electrical disturbance might reduce the damage caused to seabed habitats through heavy beam trawling, it cannot be justified to replace one damaging fishing technology with another. The impact on fish and other marine wildlife of pulse fishing is unclear, and it thus also appears to violate the precautionary principle.â€ť
Talks are being held across all EU states in order to reach a mutual agreement on future fishing arrangements, but the Commission has said that it still holds the view that electric pulse fishing should be allowed throughout Europe. It claims that the method is safer and less damaging than the alternatives, and that most scientific studies have shown that it causes less disturbance and carbon dioxide emissions than techniques like trawling.
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