The total ban on electric fishing in Europe will come into place on 1 July 2021. But the Trilogue agreement found on 13 February 2019 also plans that Member States can prohibit the practice of electric trawling in their territorial waters (12 nautical miles) as soon as the ‘Technical Measures’ Regulation comes into force. The French deputies wish to seize this opportunity to include this in the legislation. This proposal, supported by the deputy Erwan Balanant (MoDem) and co-signed by 125 MPs from all sides, testifies to the strong trans-partisan commitment of the French National Assembly and to the need to act quickly in the face of the catastrophic impacts of electric fishing.

BLOOM salutes the action of the National Assembly, which unanimously voted on 6 March 2018 a motion for the French government to defend the ban on electric fishing during the Trilogue negotiations. This motion had sparked an unanimous tidal wave and had led the Minister of Fisheries to clarify his position. Among the signatories are the MPs who consistently worked for a ban on this technique, including Paul Christophe (UDI) and François Ruffin (France Insoumise).

This measure is essential for the survival of the small-scale fishers of Hauts-de-France who are experiencing great financial difficulties since the intensification of electric fishing. The month of March represents for these gillnetters 40% of their annual revenue. However, this year, the 28 gillnetters from Boulogne captured only 7 tons of soles between 1 and 19 March 2019, against 100 tons last year. This situation is untenable and could lead to the bankruptcy of a dozen family businesses in the year according to Stéphane Pinto, representative of the gillnetters of Hauts-de-France and Vice-President of the Regional Committee of Fisheries.

Belgian artisanal fishers are also heavily impacted by electric fishing. A dozen Dutch trawlers come to fish daily in Belgian territorial waters (see for example ARM-25 below). BLOOM calls on the Belgian federal government and the Flemish regional government to follow the French initiative and to ban electric fishing in territorial waters in order to protect marine resources, ecosystems and fishers.

Trajectory of the ARM-25 (Deo Volente) on 20 March 2019 inside Belgian territorial waters.

Catch of the ARM-25 : 3.9 tons of fish, including 1.1 tons of sole (on 21 March 2019).

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