Electric fishing : only 22 licences left for the Netherlands

The year 2020 begins with some long awaited good news: following the entry into force of the new Technical Measures Regulation in August 2019, 20 derogations allowing the practice of electric fishing expired on the 31st of December 2019. They had been delivered illegally in 2010 to carry out scientific research that never took place.[1] Adding to a first round of 42 exemptions that were withdrawn on the 1st of June 2019 [2] , the Netherlands now only possess 22 exemptions out of the 84 delivered initially. BLOOM congratulates itself on the ongoing disappearance of this destructive fishery against which it fought, alongside the small-scale fishers of all of Europe.

The Dutch are nevertheless still violating the law, as only a maximum of 5% of the beam trawl fleet of each country are allowed to continue electric fishing.[3] If the Netherlands respected the Regulation, they would only have 15 licences, not 22. On this point, BLOOM filed a complaint with the European Commission on the 18th of September 2019, complaint that has been left unanswered to this day.

Despite this downscaling, Dutch industrialists did not choose to convert to gentler fishing techniques. They are actually stubbornly going back to beam trawling (which dislodges the fish from the sediment using ‘scrapper beams’), thus causing the anger of Dannish artisanal fishers, who ask for this gear to be banned throughout Europe. Worse, Dutch industrialists are even testing new methods that would allow them to renew with the radical efficiency of electric fishing. Their attention has shifted towards a method injecting streams of water under high pressure to dislodge fish from the sediment, a sort of “kärcher©“. A 24 meter long vessel, the ARM-33 of the company Jaczon , has already been equipped with this system. The industrialists are naturally seeking to obtain public subsidies to equip other vessels.

Profit makes people go crazy, but the European taxpayers must not pay for this madness. BLOOM remains and will remain watchful, and urges the European Commission to keep a close eye on these new “innovations”, synonyms of destruction of the resource and small-scale fishers.

[1] Upon request of the European Commission, Carola Schouten, Fisheries Minister of the Netherlands, declared concerning the vessels that were never involved in actual research experiments: “even when it became clear that our scientific research had not yet begun, the Commission approved a third series of derogations.”

[2] See our News post: https://www.bloomassociation.org/licences-expirees/

[3] Regulation (UE) 2019/1241 enforced on the 14th of August 2019

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