Electric fishing: the worst was avoided

Paris, 5 October 2018

The European “trilogue” negotiations on electric fishing nearly adopted an outrageous compromise on October 4 that would have allowed Dutch vessels to keep on electrocuting marine life without constraint. The disaster was narrowly avoided thanks to the mobilization of French MEPs Younous Omarjee (GUE) and Yannick Jadot (Greens/EFA).

Younous Omarjee was “escorted” out of the meeting right from the start by the rapporteur of the Technical Measures Regulation, Spanish EPP Gabriel Mato, who refused him access to the negotiating room in a blatant denial of democracy.  As a result, the European Unified Left Group (GUE) was confiscated political representation in a crucial meeting.

Younous Omarjee posted a video in French revealing this scandalous act. It was seen tens of thousands of times.

Simultaneously, Greens/EFA MEP Yannick Jadot denounced the proposed compromise on electric fishing, which he published on his blog (in French).

> This allowed BLOOM to analyze the content of the compromise

What happened yesterday was symptomatic of the opacity with which Trilogue negotiations are taking place, although the issues discussed in these meetings concern all European citizens, in particular through the financial implications of the decisions made or the impact of the European regulations on the environment.

The tension of the Trilogue negotiations on the “Technical Measures” Regulation, which will determine the fate of electric fishing in Europe, is characteristic of an explosive situation created by the European Commission in complicity with the Netherlands and their industrial fishing lobbies.

> Read BLOOM’s advocacy document on electric fishing and the revelations that our investigations brought to light

This situation is symptomatic of who influences whom in environmental matters“, explained Claire Nouvian, BLOOM’s Founder. “We have about a hundred Dutch trawlers destroying marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of artisanal fishers with public money, but governments are absolutely not mobilized to defend the jobs that are disappearing along our coastlines because of electric fishing. France or the UK have not yet lifted a finger to protect their artisanal fishers, it’s as if they did not exist. This is the brutal reality of industrial lobbies: they generate social and environmental devastation with the complicity of public authorities. The French government alone could still obtain the definitive ban on the use of electricity to catch marine life in Europe, but that requires a radical change in President Emmanuel Macron, who has proven he has no ear for environmental issues“.

> On 2 October, BLOOM revealed the presence of Dutch trawlers in a UK marine protected area
> The Blue Marine Foundation has filed a complaint to the European Commission about electric fishing going on in the Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation

The Austrian Presidency has not yet announced the next Trilogue date, but has shown its willingness to quickly wrap up the reform of the Technical Measures Regulation. As things stand, a swift conclusion of the file is more than uncertain…

To go further

This ecological “lowest bidder” policy is unfortunately representative of the evolution of European and national maritime policies. An analysis carried out in September 2018 shows that European coastal states are fishing less and less sustainably: catches from poor-status fish stocks are increasing, quotas are less respected, and scientific advice is increasingly ignored. Researchers have identified a link between these negative trends and the beginning of EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella’s term.

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