Here’s the timeline of our campaign against electric fishing, so called “pulse fishing” to confuse people’s minds. It all started in 2016…
Let’s fight until victory, together!
4 Oct. 2016: BLOOM sends a letter to the French National Fisheries Committee (CNPMEM) to develop a joint position in favor of a full ban on electric fishing
In its letter, BLOOM asked the Committee to support a full ban on electric pulse fishing, due to our concerns regarding ecosystem impacts and the clear opposition to this technique by French fishers. We have never received any official response to our letter.
24 Feb. 2017: French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal requests a moratorium on electric fishing
In a letter sent to Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Ségolène Royal (Chair of COP21 and former French Minister of Ecology) advocated for a ban on electric fishing.
21 June 2017: BLOOM rebuts electric fishing claims of sustainability at the European Parliament
Dutch fishing lobbies organize a conference at the European Parliament on 21 June 2017 on electric fishing. BLOOM attended the meeting and delivered a short speech to rebut flawed arguments heard during the presentation.
2 Oct. 2017: BLOOM files a complaint against the Netherlands
BLOOM’s campaign officially started on the 2nd of October 2017, when we filed a complaint to the European Commission against the Netherlands with regards to their unlawful exemptions.
2 Oct. 2017: a weak and problematic French position on electric fishing
French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Travert formulates the French official position explicitly: France will be opposed to exemptions granted to electric fishing beyond 5% of each Member State’s beam trawl fleet in the North Sea, but it does not question the existence and development of electric fishing. This is way too weak in the face of the problems posed by electric fishing on ecosystems and on the livelihoods of small-scale fishers of Northern Europe.
9 Oct. 2017: priority question to the European Commission
French Green MEP Pascal Durand submits a priority question to the Commission about the unlawful number of exemptions that were granted to Dutch trawlers. The Commission is supposed to answer withing three weeks, but had still not provided any clarification on the matter after the Parliament’s vote (16 January 2018). The Commission will reply on 27 November (see below).
2 Nov. 2017: BLOOM launches a petition against electric pulse fishing
BLOOM launched a petition against electric pulse fishing before the PECH Committee vote of the Parliament (held on 21 November 2017) which was going to decide whether or not MEPs agreed to consider electric pulse fishing a potentially “conventional” fishing method (which it is not!).
6 Nov. 2017: small-scale fishers from Northern France threaten to block ports depending on the outcome of the Parliament’s PECH Committee vote on 21 November
Sole gillnetters from Northern France announce that they will block the port of Calais if Members of the PECH Committee of the European Parliament vote for the expansion of electric fishing in Europe.
8 Nov. 2017: small-scale fishers of Europe send an open letter to MEPs
The LIFE (Low Impact Fishers of Europe) platform writes to MEPs, asking them not to weaken the current framework on electric pulse fishing.
8 Nov. 2017: French MP Paul Christophe challenges the French Government on its position
French center-right MP Paul Christophe asserts that the French government’s position is not strong enough on electric fishing. The answer of the French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Travert is weak and ambiguous: “we will not defend electric fishing”.
14 Nov. 2017: meeting of shadow rapporteurs at the Parliament
MEPs of the Fisheries (PECH) Committee gathered to discuss the Technical Measures Regulation and determine a political compromise on electric ‘pulse’ fishing, which will most likely be adopted during the PECH Committee vote (and it was). See details on the Compromise position below (see outcome of the vote of 21 Nov. 2017).
14 Nov. 2017: Rt. Hon. Richard Benyon calls on the UK to fully ban electric fishing before leaving the E.U
At a Westminster Hall Debate, MP and former UK Minister for Fisheries and the Natural Environment (2010-2013) Rt. Hon. Richard Benyon said: “My final point is to ask, please, in the remaining months for which we are in the EU, that we hold it to account to make sure that pulse fishing is banned. […]” (at 15’22).
15 Nov. 2017: op-ed in Le Monde signed by politicians and scientists
An op-ed is published in Le Monde, in which politicians and scientists ask for a full ban on a destructive fishing method.
According to the signatories, “accepting the development of pulse fishing would also implicitly mean we admit failure: there are not enough fish left for fishers to fill their nets without needing increasingly efficient fishing gears“.
The op-ed was also published in Spanish in EfeVerde and La Vanguardia.
15 Nov. 2017: BLOOM’s campaign against electric fishing is featured on main French TV news
France 2, one of the main French TV channels, airs a 5 mn coverage on electric fishing in prime time.
16 Nov. 2017: BLOOM requests more transparency to the Dutch lobby
During a “Common Language Group” (CLG) meeting facilitated by Seafish in London on November 16th 2017, BLOOM reminded Dutch fishing lobby VisNed that we still did not have any clarification on the complaint that we had filed against the Netherlands to the European Commission regarding their illegal licenses. We also asked VisNed’s representative, Mr. Pim Visser, to provide us with the full list of beneficiaries of the 2007-2014 European Fisheries Fund (EFF). The Netherlands is one of the only EU coastal countries (along with Bulgaria, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Portugal) not to have published this list. This is unfortunate, as most vessels using pulse trawls would have been equipped under this Fund.
21 Nov. 2017: BLOOM’s petition gathers over 84 000 votes prior to the PECH Committee vote!
84 000 signatures were gathered before the vote on the Technical Measures Regulation by the European Parliament’s PECH Committee. BLOOM gathered several MEPs in a picture of supporters to the full ban. Thanks to our champions for supporting our campaign against electric pulse fishing, and thanks to all of you who signed the petition!
21 Nov. 2017: the European Parliament’s PECH Committee opens the door to the expansion of electric fishing
The European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee voted for a possible massive expansion of electric ‘pulse’ fishing in Europe. All the amendments tabled by MEPs under the direct influence of Dutch Fishing industry – which was loudly present in the room and reminded by MEPs to behave – were adopted.
The main compromise amendment (Compromise 10 on Article 24) concerning electric ‘pulse’ fishing in the Regulation on Technical Measures was adopted by 23 MEPs against 3. It approves the possible limitless commercial expansion of electric pulse fishing in Europe should research fail to demonstrate after four years “direct or cumulative negative impacts on marine habitats”.
=> Read our analysis of the vote outcome here
BLOOM’s presence with media and fishers ensured, by a close vote (one vote difference!) that at least the Rapporteur (Spanish EPP MEP Gabriel Mato) did not obtain a “mandate” from the Committee members to go straight into final Trilogue negotiations without first having to go through a Plenary vote process.
This gave our campaign a chance to turn around these bad results. Countdown was on because lobbies obtained that the Plenary vote would occur right after Christmas. Bearing in mind that the Parliament went into Christmas recess on Dec. 15 and reconvened on January 8, this only gave us about 3 weeks to reach out to 750 MEPs and alert them on the consequences of their vote!
21 Nov. 2017: NGOs despair over terrible PECH vote results
An NGO coalition including active members such as Seas-at-Risk, BirdLife, Humane Society International and ClientEarth strongly condemns the results of the PECH Committee vote as it jeopardizes fundamental protection measures for the ocean and juvenile fish, seabirds, sea mammals. Read the press statement of Seas-at-Risk.
BLOOM and NGOs acknowledge that a LOT of work needs to be done to improve such a bad vote. NGOs focus on the whole Regulation and BLOOM only on the electric fishing ban that the Regulation allows to implement. The countdown is on as the Plenary vote will be rushed through, leaving hardly no time to reach out to MEPs.
21 Nov. 2017: French MEP Younous Omarjee (GUE) requests a full ban on electric fishing
24 Nov. 2017: French MP Erwan Balanant requests a full ban
French MP Erwar Balanant (Presidential majority) asks for a full ban on electric fishing in an op-ed.
27 Nov. 2017: sole gillnetters from Northern France behind a full ban too
Following a meeting in Boulogne-sur-Mer, representatives of the sole netters sector announce that they want a full ban, i.e. no exemptions.
27 Nov. 2017: Commissioner Vella answers MEP Pascal Durand
Read the French Green MEP Pascal Durand’s priority question to the Commission and the answer here
Answer given by Commissioner for Fisheries Mr. Karmenu Vella on behalf of the Commission (27.11.2017):
“The Commission is currently examining the complaint lodged by BLOOM and is in the process of verifying the relevant infomation, notably as regards the exact number of licenses granted by the Netherlands pursuing to Article 31a of Regulation (EC) No 850/98<a href=”#_ftn1″ name=”_ftnref1″></a>.
As long as this verification is not completed, the Commission is neither in a position to provide the Honourable Member with an accurate state of play, nor to make any statement concerning compliance with the above-mentioned Article over the years.”
29 Nov. 2017: The amended version of the Regulation on Technical Measures is published
Following the vote of 21 November, the final version of the text amended by the PECH Commission is published.
29 Nov. 2017: French MP Joachim Son-Forget questions French government
MP from “La République en Marche” (President Macron’s party) Joachim Son-Forget asks the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Stéphane Travert a question about pulse fishing. He requests a “strong position, with no ambiguity against the extension of derogatory measures.”
4 Dec. 2017: Fishmongers and processors against electric fishing
Following up on the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee vote which opens the way to electric ‘pulse’ fishing, mobilisation continues among professionals.
On December 4, the Association des Poissonniers de France – a French organization that gathers 6 400 fishmongers, processors etc. of the fishing sector – published an official statement against electric pulse fishing and announced the boycott of seafood coming from the Netherlands until electric fishing is completely banned in Europe. The group declared that the PECH Committee vote was “unjustifiable and unreasonable”, and also alarmed on the environmental disaster that is taking place.
5 Dec. 2017: Giant French retailer Intermarché opposes electric fishing
On December 5, giant French retailer “Intermarché Agromousquetaires”announces a moratorium on electric fishing. Their press release highlights the negative impacts on marine ecosystems but also points to the economic and social threats for the artisanal fishing sector in the North Sea.
6 Dec. 2017: French small-scale fishers support gillnetters from the North Sea
The French small-scale fishers platform brilliantly put into perspective the development of electric fishing and subsequent issues that their artisanal colleagues face in the North Sea. The platform “strongly and unanimously” supports their fellow fishers in their fight against electric fishing. Their words speak volumes:
“Let’s not be mistaken: with the question of electric pulse fishing, it is once again the industrialisation issue of the artisanal fishing sector in France and Europe that is at stake. If we allow electric pulse fishing like we authorized giant Dutch, British and French trawlers, it will increase the power of industrials. Just like pelagic trawling, Danish seine, or any other super effective fishing gear, the rules of the game change each time a new technique, more efficient and more economical, emerges. It causes the smallest and the least performing fishers to go bankrupt and leads the other to embrace this new technique.”
7 Dec. 2017: Small-scale fishers betrayed by their National Committee
Over thirty fishers from northern France go to Paris to demand the support of their National Committee of Fisheries (CNPEM) in their fight against electric fishing. Their request was clear: they wanted their Committee to show strong public support towards small-scale North Sea fishers whose fishing resources are looted by the Dutch ultra-efficient electric trawls. They wanted their Committee’s support for a total ban on electric fishing in Europe, with no exemption possible. They also asked the Committee’s executives to pressure the French Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Stéphane Travert, in order to have his support on the file so he could ask for a total ban on electric fishing at the Council of EU Ministers instead of supporting industrial Dutch trawlers. Unfortunately, the Committee seems to have other fish to fry than helping small-scale fishers. The national representation clearly supports industrial interests rather than French artisanal fishers. Their press release was crystal-clear: the Committee has struck a deal with the Dutch…
This could be the last round in a decade-long war between industrials and small-scale fishers. This time, the latter might get crushed by the former.
12 Dec. 2017: European petition to stop Electric Fishing in Europe
It will undoubtedly take time to achieve a ban on electric fishing, but with the support of citizens, BLOOM and colleagues from the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and the Pew Charitable Trusts have managed to get deep-sea trawling banned in Europe, so let’s get to work to show what we are capable of together!
13 Dec. 2017: French MP Adrien Quatennens challenges the French government
13 Dec. 2017: The Dutch Federation of Fish Wholesalers and Processors issues a letter against BLOOM
Visfederatie, the Dutch Federation of Fish Wholesalers issues a letter against BLOOM about our electric fishing campaign. This letter tries to weaken BLOOM’s arguments to insist on the “environmental benefits” of electric trawling (by, as usual, comparing it only to the worst, i.e. beam trawling). In so doing, Dutch lobbies give BLOOM ample acknowledgment of our extreme efficacy!
14 Dec. 2017: The Dutch government lobbies on behalf… of lobbies!
The Dutch embassy in Paris defends electric fishing in a press release which copies-pastes the arguments used by the Dutch fishing industry to make the case for the benefits of this technique. The Embassy in Paris targets French MPs that publicly raised their voice against electric fishing. This is the first time BLOOM has ever seen public funds and diplomatic services from a country being so directly used to lobby on behalf of an industry. This is particularly violet bearing in mind that even Dutch small-scale fishers speak up against the use of electric current. Here also, the government favors destructive, subsidy-dependent industrial practices to small-scale environmentally friendly methods. Outrageous.
18 Dec. 2017: French Socialist Party in the EU Parliament calls for a full ban
This press release recalls that electric fishing has strictly been forbidden in Europe since 1998, but also mentions the great doubts that still exist on the impact and damage of this fishing method.
The French socialist delegation in the European Parliament calls on MEPs to vote against electric fishing in Europe and asks the Parliament to delay the vote because the draft Plenary schedule does not allow NGOs and small-scale fishermen to make their voices heard.
On the following day, this statement is shared by Sylvie Guillaume, S&D MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament.
19 Dec. 2017: French MEP Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL) calls for a “ban on barbaric electric fishing in Europe”
20 Dec. 2017: The European Parliament’s Plenary vote will occur on 16 January 2018
The EP announces that the vote will take place on January 16th, 2018 in Strasbourg, which is too soon after the Christmas recess for us to reach out to the European Parliamentarians and make them aware of the great dangers electric fishing represents.
21 Dec. 2017: French MP Jean-Luc Mélenchon declares his opposition to pulse fishing
26 Dec. 2017: Jean-Luc Mélenchon asks Parliamentary question
Jean-Luc Mélenchon questions France’s position on a total ban of electric pulse fishing and the lack of relevant and independent scientific research on this subject.
8 Jan. 2018: new revelations on a European scandal
As the European Parliament prepares to vote on whether to restore the 1998 ban on electric fishing or to authorise its wide use throughout Europe, a group of NGOs and fisher organizations send a joint letter to the European Commission revealing a compromising document, which questions the morality of its 2006 proposal to lift the ban on electric fishing.[i] The letter reveals that expert scientific advice to the Commission was blatantly ignored and requests the European Commission immediately withdraw all provisions concerning electric fishing from its legislative proposal on the Technical Measures Regulation,[ii] which will be voted by the European Parliament on 16 January 2018.
9 Jan. 2018: Spanish artisanal fishermen support a full ban on electric fishing
The Lonxanet Foundation takes a public position for the ban on electric fishing in a statement and supports BLOOM. The foundation works for the Spanish artisanal fishery and gathers associations of artisanal fishermen.
10 Jan. 2018: the European Parliament under high tension
BLOOM co-organizes an event co-sponsored by the Greens/EFA, GUE/NGL, ALDE, ECR and S&D, during which several announcements are made demonstrating a strong mobilization of the public opinion and professional actors against fishing Electric: the Chefs Manifesto against electric fishing, the commitment of large retailers, the opposition of citizens to electric fishing, the position of intellectuals and fishermen.
During this event, MEPs were shown an “artivist” performance.
10 Jan. 2018: 249 French MPs sign an op-ed in Le Monde
249 French MPs took up the cause against the reintroduction of electric fishing in Europe in an op-ed called “Electric fishing:” This practice is shameful to Europe and discredits us on the international scene “.
10 Jan. 2018: Top European chefs take electric pulse fishing off the menu
13 Jan. 2018: Advocacy document against electric fishing
As part of our campaign against electric fishing, BLOOM releases an advocacy document that reviews the many environmental and social problems caused by electric fishing, but also the underlying political and financial scandal: in 2006, the European Commission went against scientific advice to allow this prohibited fishing method. Since then, millions of euros of public money have been injected into “research” and the equipment of fishing vessels with electric trawls.
Meanwhile, artisanal fishers are going bankrupt.
Read our advocacy document here.
14 Jan. 2018: Rebuttal to Dutch electric trawl lobbies
As BLOOM’s campaign against electric fishing grows stronger, and as more and more voices rise up against this destructive fishing method ahead of the European Parliament’s vote on 16 January 2018, Dutch lobbies are desperately trying to counter our well-referenced arguments.
To this end, electric fishing lobby VisNed distributed an “information” document to MEPs, full of biased, erroneous or simply false arguments. Indeed, trying to depict electric trawling as a virtuous and sustainable by comparing it to one of the worst fishing methods — the beam trawl — is outrageous.
Read our rebuttal to the Dutch electric trawling lobbies here.
16 Jan. 2018: BLOOM’s petition reaches 105,000 signatures
16 Jan. 2018: MASSIVE VICTORY in the European Parliament
The Parliament firmly rejects the use of electric current to catch fish: 402 votes adopt a full ban, 232 reject it and 40 abstain. This is a radical victory for BLOOM and its 18 partner NGOs and Fishermen organizations as well as for citizens and common sense.
As lamented by other NGOs, the rest of the Technical Measures Regulation is nonetheless extremely damaging in many ways. Despite the massive victory on electric fishing, BLOOM’s press release acknowledges the damage done, as assessed by expert NGO Seas-at-Risk. Read their press release here about what is considered a “disastrous proposal”.
17 Jan. 2018: CARREFOUR announces that it will no longer sell products caught with electricity
“Carrefour France does not market species caught using an electric current. As of December, all of its suppliers have confirmed that they respect this exclusion (all fish sold in the fresh section and frozen fish under the Carrefour brand) according to the distributor’s website.
Carrefour joins Mericq, the fishmongers of France and the Agromousquetaire group, which initiated the movement in December 2017.
17 Jan. 2018: BIOCOOP supports the prohibition of electric fishing in Europe & congratulates BLOOM
21 Jan. 2018: Creation of a fake Twitter account by fishing lobbies “BLOOMISFAKENEWS”
The lobbies again try to discredit BLOOM and create a fake Twitter account “bloomisfakenews”. Our campaign is based on referenced arguments and we are attentive as to the origins of our sources.
24 Jan. 2018: Revelations on illegal licenses
25 Jan. 2018: Calais Port blocked by the gillnetters of northern France
Artisanal fishermen have blocked the port of Calais to demand that the French government defends the ban on electric fishing. They also demand exceptional financial assistance. Since the expansion of electric fishing, their catches are so low that they are at risk of bankruptcy. With this blockage, they hope to be heard by the authorities.
25 Jan. 2018: Three Dutch MEPs file a complaint against BLOOM
An article in the Dutch newspaper De Télégraaph reveals that Dutch MEPs Jan Huitema, Peter van Dalen, and Annie Schreier-Pierik have lodged a complaint with the EU Integrity Office against BLOOM. The reason? Lobbying on the basis of lies. The complaint was rejected.
26 Jan. 2018: GILLNETTERS get meeting in the MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE
The gillnetters of Hauts-de-France are received in the cabinet of Olivier Cunin (Adviser of animal sectors, fishing, and social performance at the Ministry of Agriculture) following the blocking of the port of Calais. An exceptional budget is to be released (its amount is yet to be confirmed). The government says it supports the ban on electric fishing in Europe.
26 Jan. 2018: Dutch scientist recognizes that after electric TRAWLS PASS, “YOU WILL FIND ONLY DEAD ANIMALS”
A very biased article in the Dutch newspaper NRC gives the floor to Dutch scientists. Adriaan Rijnsdorp (researcher at Wageningen University & Research) is quoted saying that after the electric trawling nets pass, everything dies. The researchers wait two days to take measurements, which calls into question the validity of the experimental protocol.
“The impact of beam trawls and electric powered trawls is now being studied in a straightforward way, WMR researchers, for example, take samples directly from the seabed before and after the fishermen leave. Such research at sea is laborious. By measuring right away, you will only find dead animals, “says Rijnsdorp. “So we measure two days later, when all the scavengers are gone.”
This is in agreement with the testimony of British, French and Belgian artisanal fishermen who proclaim to be fishing in a “cemetery” after the electric trawls pass.
27 Jan. 2018: DUTCH RESEARCHER QUESTIONS THE NECESSITY OF 84 SHIPS FOR “RESEARCH”
Adriaan Rijnshorp says in the Dutch press: “The Netherlands has broken the law in recent years by increasing the number of temporary permits. This seemed to be experimental, but the researchers never wrote a proposal for a research program that required 84 ships. In contact with other countries, the Netherlands has now indicated that there is an economic incentive in helping this troubled sector, the flatfish fishery. Fishing with electrical pulses is simply more profitable.”
29 Jan. 2018: Dutch GOVERNMENT gears up to fight PROHIBITION OF ELECTRIC FISHING IN EUROPE
Annie Schreijer (Dutch MEP) says Rutte (the Dutch Prime Minister) must negotiate directly with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel to reach a compromise. Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Netherlands, meets Stéphane Travert. She would like to involve the French in the research of electric fishing. She will also appoint a special envoy to lobby European member states to defend the electric fishery.
1st Feb. 2018: BLUE MARINE FOUNDATION SUPPORTS BLOOM’s CAMPAIGN
Blue Marine Foundation decides to campaign in the UK for the ban on electric fishing.
6 Feb. 2018: Weak DECLARATION OF FRENCH Fisheries MINISTER
Minister Stéphane Travert answers the written questions of Erwan Balanant and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, which ask for France’s position on electric fishing. The answers are identical, word for word. The government’s position remains ambiguous: “the French Government will reaffirm its opposition to any propagation of the electric trawl and will support the position taken by the European Parliament in calling for the maintenance of a ban. “
Indeed though the Minister is opposed to the propagation of electric fishing, his words lack firmness and commitment. BLOOM expects the government to form a coalition to defend the total ban on electric fishing, without possible exemptions.
8 Feb. 2018: French National Assembly’s EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE adopts a resolution on electric fishing
In the European Affairs Committee, French MPs unanimously adopted the motion for a resolution by Joachim Son Forget (LREM), in favor of a total ban on electric fishing, including arbitrary exemptions issued by the European Commission. This text aims to encourage the Minister Stéphane Travert to make commitments in defending the ban on electric fishing.
According to the MP Jean-Pierre Pont, the Commission “seeks to confirm the Dutch’s failure to respect the rule of 5% which they themselves published for electric fishing, a failure in which they were complicit by tolerating it and by refusing to sanction it, as was their duty.”
20 Feb. 2018: THE NETHERLANDS DEPLOYs its electric fishing ‘TASK FORCE’
Former Dutch Fisheries Minister Cees Veerman is named “ambassador” for electric fishing. His mission is to lobby governments in order to fight the ban and convince Member States to embrace electric fishing. Industrial lobbies around Europe back this approach and lobby there own governments, despite the social bloodbath caused in the fishing sector and small-scale métiers.
21 Feb. 2018: ADOPTION OF THE MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION IN ECONOMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
The motion for a resolution to ban electric fishing in Europe (voted for on 8 February 2018 by the European Affairs Committee) is once again voted for unanimously in the Committee on Economic Affairs.
FEBRUARY 26th 2018: HEARING OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
The Commission has a closed hearing: it has to explain its 2006 decision to reintroduce electric fishing in Europe as well as the illegal number of exemptions that have been granted in the Netherlands. BLOOM forwarded its questions to MEPs, but the Commission lacked sincerity in its responses.
Liadh Ní Riada, Irish MEP, issues a press release following the Commission hearing due to the illegal licenses granted to the Netherlands. She wrote in particular that: “The granting of so many licenses was a slap in the face to the European Parliament, which voted to maintain the ban on electric powered trawling a few weeks ago” She also denounces the issuance of illegal licenses: “Due to the exploitation of a number of legal and regulatory loopholes, aided by questionable legal interpretations facilitated by the European Commission itself, a total of 84 of these licenses have been granted. “
MARCH 1st 2018: THE TELEVISION SHOW PUBLIC SENATE CANCELS CLAIRE NOUVIAN
Initially invited on set to debate about sustainable fishing (one of the themes being electric fishing), the organizers of the program Public Senate Live from the Salon de l’Agriculture, cancel Claire Nouvian. BLOOM is replaced by Ethic Ocean in the debate.
MARCH 6th 2018: THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY VOTES UNANIMOUSLY FOR THE PROHIBITION OF ELECTRIC FISHING IN EUROPE
On March 6th, the MPs’ resolution (LREM) Joachim Son-Forget and Jean-Pierre Pont’s call for a total ban on the use of electric currents to catch fish sparked a flood of agreement in the National Assembly. The unanimous vote of the MPs sends a strong message to the government.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food Stéphane Travert, who was present in the Chamber, clarified the position of France and affirmed its support for a total ban. BLOOM congratulates the government for its change of position but now waits for France’s plan
of action to create a qualified majority of member states in solidarity with its position in the Council.
MPs have rightly pointed out on several occasions that the trilogue negotiations (between the Commission, the Parliament and the Council of the EU) promised to be “tough” because of the fierce lobbying by the Dutch government fighting against the ban on electric fishing.
Read our press release
MARCH 13th 2018: AN ELECTRIC TRAWLER ARRESTED OFF DUNKIRK
A Dutch vessel was arrested for illegal mesh size in Dunkirk. After inspection of the catch, French authorities seized 200 kg of undersized fish that was however destined for sale. The same day saw the trial of F/V Cornelis Jacob, arrested a year earlier for the same infraction.
Read our report
Translation of the Facebook post: In Dunkirk, the fish seized from illegal electric trawling is in the process of being counted. 1,700kg of fish destined for sale, of which 800kg are sole. And that isn’t the end of it. They found that more than 200kg of the sole are undersized (smaller than 24cm), all gutted (not for nothing…). An additional infraction! Sickening to see the contempt of the rules!! We bend to the European regulations but the law isn’t the same for everyone. When will we be heard? Minister Stéphane Travert, Mr. Vella of the European Commission, listen to us, before electric trawling destroys all of the resources and us along with it. Artisanal fishers of Europe count on your support for the trilogue: TOTAL ban on electric pulse fishing.
MARCH 19TH 2018: START OF THE TRILOGUE
Monday March 19th, the negotiations that will decide the fate of electric fishing as well as all of the technical measures put in place by the Common Fisheries Policy begin. They take place behind closed doors in complete institutional opacity.
Read our report
MARCH 21st 2018: MEETING BETWEEN PRESIDENT MACRON AND THE DUTCH PRIME MINISTER
On March 21st 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron met the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. During an open press conference, in response to a journalist’s question, the French President affirmed the position of France, favoring a total ban on electric pulse fishing: “I assure you that I am not in favor of electric fishing. I know that this subject is very controversial among our fishers. I also know that it has been proven to have a damaging effect on fish stocks and therefore I think that the European decision was a good one, (…) We will find other methods but we will do it intelligently in order to preserve the both of them, as well as the interests of our fishers”
Read our report
25 MARCH 2018: DUTCH JOURNALIST DENOUNCES LACK OF RESEARCH
A Dutch journalist, Thomas Spekschoor, has had access to the number of vessels equipped with electrodes that participated in research, year after year, in the Netherlands. He unveiled the research fraud in an article published in the journal NOS: despite the fact that 84 licenses were awarded to the Netherlands for research, there were, at most, 32 ships that were involved in research.
“It was a trick to obtain permits and use them to fish commercially because, in reality, many of the ships fished for years without a scientist ever coming on board” wrote the journalist.
Read our translation
26 March 2018: Weak response from Dutch fishing lobby VISNED
The fishing lobby Visserbond responded to the article published in NOS the day before. The author tried to justify the absence of research onboard electric trawlers. He explained that fishers didn’t have a choice but to ask for the licenses if they wanted to save their business from bankruptcy. Therefore, the motive of research had been overshadowed.
27 MARCH 2018: EUROPEAN COMMISSION ASKS THE NETHERLANDS TO JUSTIFY LICENSES GRANTED FOR SCIENTIFIC PURPOSES
Following the article published in NOS showing that the majority of ships were not participating in research, the European Commission asked the Netherlands if the researched had, in fact, taken place. As a matter of fact, the licenses granted between 2010 and 2014 were specifically granted for scientific research.
27 MARCH 2018: DUTCH FISHERIES MINISTER ACCUSES THE COMMISSION OF HAVING DELIVERED UNNECESSARY LICENSES
At the request of the European Commission, Dutch Minister in charge of fisheries Carola Schouten, explained that the licenses granted were done so while the vessels were not in involved in research. She declared: “Even when it became clear that scientific research was not being carried out, the Commission granted a 3rd series of exemptions.” She therefore blamed the European Commission for having granted these additional licenses.
29 MARCH 2018: NEW JUSTIFICATIONS FROM Dutch MINISTER
In a letter addresses to the Netherlands’ Parliament, Carola Schouten explains that the experiments on electric pulse fishing have been done. She equally explains that there isn’t any obligation to conduct research for the 22 licenses granted between 2007 and 2010. She therefore contradicts a 2006 press release that says the opposite.
“The fishing boats operating in zones IVb and IVc will be authorized to use electricity for experimental fishing and will be subject to strict conditions.”
30 MARCH 2018: NATURE & DÉCOUVERTES SUPPORTS the BAN ON ELECTRIC FISHING
French brand Nature & Découvertes put tablets in their stores allowing clients to sign BLOOM’s petition in favor of a full ban on electric fishing.
April 4th 2018: MOTION AGAINST THE PROHIBITION OF ELECTRIC PULSE FISHING FILED BY THE NETHERLANDS
Barry Madlener, a dutch MP from the “Party for Freedom” (Pvv) filed a motion for the government to refuse the total ban on electric pulse fishing during the trilogue. Mr Madlener suggested that the Prime Minister Rutte would take over the negotiations about the ban on electric pulse
April 10th, 2018: REJECTION OF THE MOTION AGAINST THE TOTAL BAN ON ELECTRIC PULSE FISHING
Barry Madlener’s motion is rejected with a large majority because the motion showed a lack of confidence toward the Minister Schouten. She replied that they have a policy that aims at discussing the advantages of the pulse with other member states and she did not think it was necessary to hand the negotiations over to Mr. Rutte.
April 13th 2018: THE COMMISSION RESPONDS TO OUR COMPLAINT OF OCTOBER 2nd, 2017
The Commission said it had transferred BLOOM’s complaint to the “EU Pilot”, a system supposed to allow “an informal exchange of information between the Commission and the Member State concerned“. But according to Claire Nouvian, this “pseudo-procedure” is actually meant to save time and to avoid formally launching an infringement procedure. “The Commission had 12 months after we filed our first complaint to decide whether it would launch a formal procedure against the Netherlands. When, after six months, the Commission replied that our complaint was transmitted to an “informal” mechanism whose stated purpose is to avoid, if possible, “formal infringement proceedings”, it’s almost a public admission of its bias in favour of those who trample on European law. The Commission is the Guardian of the Treaties, it is supposed to be “politically independent”. If the executive arm of the EU does not defend the general interest and democracy, especially at a sensitive time of Trilogue political negotiations, which must decide whether or not to ban electric fishing in Europe, then how much can citizens trust EU institutions?” Nouvian asked.
April 15th, 2018: BLOOM PUBLISHES AN UPDATE OF ITS ADVOCACY DOCUMENT
The research funded by BLOOM allowed for an update of the advocacy document published in January 2018. This new version considers the revelations concerning the political and financial scandal that were brought to light during BLOOM’s campaign.
April 16TH 2018: BLOOM files a second complaint against the Netherlands
This EU Member State does not respect the EU rules. BLOOM decided to challenge the European Commission again about the failure of the Dutch government to comply with European law: the Netherlands is the only major fishing nation in Europe to have not published data about the public subsidies that were allocated to Dutch fleets between 2007 and 2014.
This period corresponds to the illegal, illegitimate, and abusive, development of electric pulse fishing with 84 licenses granted under the title of “research”.
Read our complaint
Read our press release
April 16TH 2018: BLOOM ASKS THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO BE IMPARTIAL
In a letter, BLOOM calls on the European Commission to act impartially and to “take all necessary measures” to ensure the Netherlands complies with EU rules, whether it is about the unlawful number of licenses or about breaching financial transparency requirements.
17-19 APRIL 2018: Expert working group “WGELECTRA” meets to work ON ELECTRIC FISHING
Scientists discuss research on electric fishing for three days. For the first time, a scientist from IFREMER was present. Several issues of concern will not be addressed by the Dutch so-called ‘research’:
- The impact of electricity on eggs of sole.
- The socio-economic impact of electric fishing on other fleets.
Also, we had confirmation that the computer set up on vessels to record parameters does record the voltage but not the frequency of the electric current. This is a key parameter that can render the gear more efficient and thus more dangerous. Uncontrolled frequency is why China has seriously damaged its ecosystems before banning electric fishing in 2000.
24 APRIL 2018: THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION ACKNOWLEDGES RECEIPT OF OUR COMPLAINT FROM 16 APRIL 2018
BLOOM receives an email confirming that the Commission had received our second complaint against the Netherlands, which concerned the non-publication of data pertaining to the subsidies allocated to their fishing fleets between 2007 and 2014.
30 APRIL 2018: CLAIRE NOUVIAN SLAMS THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT’S INACTION ON LIVE TV
4 MAY 2018: PUBLICATION OF A CONTROVERSIAL STUDY
The Belgian Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO) studied the impacts of electric current on eggs and larvae of soles. But the scientific protocol bore fundamental flaws and a questionable methodology. For example, the samples were contaminated with a fungus but the experiment carried on by treating the eggs with a chemical. ILVO has thus found itself publishing extravagant data claiming that electricity increases embryos’ survival! The Dutch Telegraaph newspaper seized the opportunity to claim that electricity had no impact on fish stocks. Dutch MEP Peter van Dalen built on this to assert that the European Parliament had made a mistake by voting for the ban on electric fishing last January. A nice line up…
>Read our rebuttal
7 MAY 2018: Green MEP YANNICK JADOT visits FRENCH ARTISANAL FISHERS
MEP Yannick Jadot went out to sea with French gillnetters to witness firsthand the damage done by electric fishing on marine ecosystems and livelihoods in the North Sea. Yannick Jadot also challenged French President Emmanuel Macron, Minister of Ecology Nicolas Hulot and Minister of Food and Agriculture Stéphane Travert so that France respects its commitments and defends the ban on electric fishing at the European level.
15 MAY 2018: EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER KARMENU VELLA SPEAKS AT THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
To the question by Dutch MEP Peter van Dalen, Mr. Vella answered that: “to pulse, I was present for the parliamentary discussion. To be honest, I think the discussion was, again, more political than scientific. Why am I saying this. Because we have scientific assessments, and the scientific assessments are very very clear. Again, we can be consistent when it comes to science. I don’t think we can be very consistent when it comes to political approaches. But, again, I have noted the European Parliament’s position on that.”
This response highlights yet again the full support of the European Commission to the electric lobby. Shamefully, results of the so-called ‘science’ are distorted: scientific studies have shown that electricity was harmful for cod eggs (delayed hatching, increased larvae mortality), that it caused fractures and hemorrhages in large cod, high discard rates (50-70%) etc.
23 MAY 2018: CITIZENS Call on PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON to mobilize French diplomacy for a “win”!
Since our collective victory at the European Parliament in January 2018, French diplomatic services have done nothing to secure an EU-wide ban on electric fishing. BLOOM launches a cartoon to explain European negotiations and to call on French citizens to email or tweet the French President.
30 May 2018: PUBLICATION OF ICES’ WGELECTRA REPORT
This report results from the scientific meeting that was held on 17-19 April 2018. These scientists assessed the research carried out by two institutes: ILVO (Belgium) and Wageningen University (Netherlands). In this report, the authors list issues that have still not been addressed, including the long-term effects of electricity and the social impact on foreign fleets (trawls and inshore fisheries, including small-sale and shrimp fisheries).
30 May 2018: ICES RESPONDS TO A SPECIAL REQUEST FROM THE NETHERLANDS
Right after the European Parliament’s vote, the Netherlands asked ICES to “compare the ecological and environmental effects of using traditional beam trawls or pulse trawls when exploiting the TAC of North Sea sole“. This request was designed to insinuate doubts as it requested a comparison of electric fishing with one of the most destructive fishing gears there is. Although this biased question could only result in a positive outcome for electric trawls — given the poor quality of the research that was conducted — being ‘better’ than the worst fishing gears certainly does not make electric ‘good’, let alone ‘sustainable’. It also ignores social impacts.
The scientific advice of ICES is particularly shocking because science so ostensibly serves political purposes. This is a blatant contradiction of this international scientific body’s mission.
4 June 2018: BLOOM CRITICIZES THE ICES SPECIAL ADVICE
Nothing new in the ICES report but plenty cherry-picking of data to advocate that electric fishing is ‘sustainable’. European science obviously needs a check and balance process to avoid being so grossly instrumentalized to political ends. Citizens are entitled to expect more integrity and independence from European science and political institutions.
> read our analysis of the ICES Advice.
4 June 2018: 25 NGOs AND FISHERMEN groups PUBLISH A JOINT POSITION TO DEMAND THE PROHIBITION OF ELECTRIC FISHING
A coalition of NGOs and fishermen associations publishes a joint position, sent to all EU decision-makers. These 25 organizations expect scientists, Member States and the European Commission to live up to the expectations of European citizens to arbitrate matters with integrity, impartiality and with a constant strive to implement Europe’s commitments to restore its marine ecosystems, biodiversity, to safeguard our common future and the survival of traditional fishers as well as to defend the general interest against private interests.
4 June 2018: BLOOM REQUESTS IFREMER TO PUBLISH A CONFIDENTIAL REPORT ON THE MORTALITY OF SEABASS LARVAE DUE TO ELECTRICITY
The French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) produced an expert report in 2016 following significant mortality of seabass larvae at Aquastream, a company located in Brittany. This French hatchery provided many customers in several countries, mainly in the Mediterranean basin. Unfortunately, it went bankrupt and closed in 2017 as a result of significant losses related to mortality of their seabass larvae. It seems that these important mortality rates were due to the presence of weak electric currents in the tanks.
7 June 2018: Yet again, DUTCH MEPs PETER VAN DALEN AND ANNIE SCHREIJER ATTACK BLOOM
MEPs Peter van Dalen and Annie Schreijer indicate that they have launched a procedure to ban BLOOM from the European Parliament. They accuse BLOOM of spreading lies and fake news on electric fishing. These industry lobbyists are trying to discredit us, while Trilogue negotiations are due to take place shortly.
In parallel, Peter van Dalen distorts scientific facts on Twitter to fit the satisfy the electric lobby’s agenda.
13 June 2018: FISHERS AND NGOs CALL ON THE EUROPEAN ANTI-FRAUD OFFICE TO INVESTIGATE the ELECTRIC FISHERY
Despite the non-compliance of the Dutch Government with the EU transparency requirements regarding the publication of financial data provided to the fishing sector, there is evidence that Dutch electric vessels and research institutes were granted substantial amounts of undue public subsidies. Fishers and NGOs jointly question the legality of these public expenditures and request the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to investigate the potential fraud.
Remarkably, coastal and small-scale fishers from the Netherlands joined the coalition of NGOs and fishers for the first time. C-Life and IJmuiden fishermen now openly support the fight against electric fishing which is driving them to bankruptcy.
Our anti-fraud investigation request generated the interest of the media. In the Netherlands, NOS published an article echoing the fundamental transparency flaw of the Dutch government with regards to public subsidies, the amount of electric fishing licences and the scientific activities which were not carried out. The Dutch government reacted that it was “nonsense that profits have to be paid back to the subsidy provider”. Nervousness becomes palpable.
Andries Visser of IJmuiden Vissers said: “If a pulse fishing ship is passing by, there is nothing more to catch for us, leaving the sea behind like a graveyard.” That type of fishing should never have been subsidized according to him.
14 June 2018: BLOOM asks Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to publish fisheries subsidies data
Following our complaint against the Netherlands and our collective request to the EU Anti-Fraud Office to investigate potential fraud in the Electric fishery, BLOOM urges Prime Minister Mark Rutte to arbitrate in four of transparency. Read our letter.
18 June 2018: BLOOM and its allies organize EU-wide mobilization in fishing ports
Small-scale and traditional fishers across the EU mobilize in ports in a simultaneous action of resistance to protest against electric fishing and to call on public decision-makers to definitively ban this destructive fishing technique in Europe.
18 June 2018: BLOOM publishes “Hand in Hand”, a report on the moral corruption of public decision making
BLOOM puts together a dossier showing the moral corruption unveiled by the electric fishing and how dysfunctional EU institutions can be when under the influence of industry lobbies. Read our report “HAND IN HAND”.
21 June 2018: French research institute IFREMER criticizes the ICES opinion on electric fishing
21 June 2018: Parliament suspends EU negotiations on Technical Measures Regulation and electric fishing
On a proposal by the vociferous Dutch MEP Peter Van Dalen, the Parliament decides to consult Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) on the Regulation. RACs have until 15 Sept. 2018 to give an opinion.
21 September 2018: FORMER JURIST AT THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION CONFIRMS SCANDALS REVEALED BY BLOOM
The conclusions of the author (Michel Morin) about the legal construct of this authorization are unequivocal:
- The derogations granted at the end of 2006 and allowing the use of electric current to catch fish have gone against an explicit scientific advice, as well as the other successive decisions.
- The European Commission used irregular procedures to introduce derogations related to a fishing technique in a regulation on fishing quotas (the derogations should therefore not have been included there).
- The Netherlands has committed a very clear infringement by granting a number of licences far in excess of the regulatory framework.
- European subsidies that benefited these licenses exceeding the regulatory framework should not have been authorised.
- The fishing activity is clearly commercial and cannot be considered as a scientific fishery.
- A strangely defined article on “innovative fishing gears” (Article 24) in the Technical Measures Regulation currently under negotiation should be suppressed as it opens a dangerous legal loophole: it enables new derogations to electric fishing to be legally granted.
> Read our analysis
> Read Michel Morin’s article
1st October 2018: A new complaint against electric fishing
The Blue Marine Foundation filed a complaint to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment, highlighting that EU Member States and the European Commission had permitted fishing vessels to undertake electric fishing inside the Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation in breach of several articles of the Habitats Directive.
> Read BLUE’s press release
BLOOM tracked the fishing activities of 87 electric ‘pulse’ trawlers between 2015 and September 2018 (84 vessels flagged in the Netherlands and three in the UK, but Dutch-owned) and found that eight trawlers had been fishing in the Dogger Bank, a zone of great interest and biodiversity richness, which enjoys a protected status since 2012 under Europe’s Habitats Directive, and which was designated as a “Special Area of Conservation” in 2017.
> Read BLOOM’s press release
4 October 2018: SCANDALOUS DENIAL OF DEMOCRACY IN THE EUROPEAN NEGOTIATIONS ON ELECTRIC FISHING
Negotiations on the Technical Measures Regulation, which will decide the fate of electric fishing in Europe, resumed after a long summer break. The three institutions (Commission, Council and Parliament) met in the Parliament in Strasbourg in a closed-door “Trilogue” meeting.
Gabriel Mato showed his true colors by categorically refusing that the political group of the European United Left (“GUE”) be represented by French MEP Younous Omarjee. The latter, commissioned by his group, went to the Trilogue meeting but was expelled by Gabriel Mato in a violent denial of democracy denounced by Younous Omarjee in a video posted on Twitter.
The Chair of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, French MEP Alain Cadec (EPP group), stated on Twitter that the rapporteur (Gabriel Mato) had “a clear mandate from the Parliament for a full ban on electric fishing”. He added: “we will be very vigilant and if necessary the plenary session will confirm the first reading”.
> Read our press release
4 October 2018: a new trilogue, a scandalous compromise
Yannick Jadot published the compromise proposal, a true Trojan horse of the Dutch electric fishing lobby which made it possible to legalize the current derogations. This proposal has fortunately not been adopted.
> Read our analysis
8 October 2018: A new petition against electric fishing
BLOOM launches a new petition asking the French President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron to defend and fully engage French diplomacy for a total ban on electric fishing in Europe.