Electric fishing: The European Court of Justice rejects the Dutch request.

On Thursday 15 April, the European Court of Justice demonstrated its supremacy over the Dutch industrial lobbies that tried to have the ban on electric fishing lifted. On 9 October 2019, the Netherlands appealed to the Court of Justice of the European Union to satisfy a handful of cynical industrial lobbies, but the Precautionary Principle, a pillar of the Common Fisheries Policy, has prevailed.

Their political maneuver did not work. Two years after the European institutions eventually agreed to ban electric fishing, the Court’s ruling is a good sign for general interest. Electric fishing will be banned in Europe from 1 July 2021 onward. “This is a huge relief. We cannot call it a victory, because the fact that a rogue state can challenge the very existence of a legitimate and much-needed regulation says a lot about the dysfunction of European institutions. A real victory would be the prosecution of the Netherlands, the reimbursement of the subsidies they have received, and a compensation for the fishers who have suffered from electric fishing for the past 10 years“, comments Frédéric Le Manach, scientific director of BLOOM.

BLOOM welcomes France’s support of the Council and of the European Parliament in defense of the Regulation but highlights the peculiar absence of the European Commission. By refusing to defend this regulation, the Commission implicitly sided with the Netherlands: the Guardian of the Treaties is no longer fulfilling its role.

BLOOM will remain vigilant regarding the proper enforcement of the ban, but also to new attempts by lobbies to reintroduce electric fishing. We will also continue to ensure that our complaints against fraudulent derogations are properly handled, and that the fishers’ request regarding the reimbursement of public subsidies succeeds.

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