23 November 2018
The ENVI Committee excludes electric fishing from the list of activities liable to receive funding as of 2021
23 November 2018
On Tuesday 20th of November 2018, MEPs from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted on the future regulation of European funds allocated to fishing between 2021 and 2027. The European Commission proposal 2018/0210 (COD) implicitly mentions the possibility to fund electric fishing by stipulating that subsidies should support “innovation and investments in low-impact, climate resilient and low-carbon fishing practices and techniques”. Since its implementation in 2007, electric fishing has been falsely called “innovation” by the industry and this term has been taken up by the European Commission, notably in its “technical measures” text proposal.
Amendments 70 and 162 proposed by Irish MEP Luke Ming Flanagan (GUE/NGL) sought to exclude electric fishing from the list of activities liable to receive EU funding. The first amendment specifies that financial support “should exclude any investment in electric pulse fishing methods”. The second adds “operations that include any form of electrical pulse-fishing” to the list of operations that cannot be subsidised using such funds.
25 MEPs from the ENVI Committee voted in favour of these amendments (18 and 19 voted against the first and the second, respectively), despite Spanish rapporteur Francesc Gambús (European People’s Party group – EEP) for the ENVI Committee having advised rejecting these amendments. This voting recommendation shows the absence of will inside the EEP group to ban electric fishing and to bloc all means of development of this destructive technique. It should be recalled that the rapporteur on the “technical measures” text, which includes provisions on electric fishing, is MEP Gabriel Mato (also from the EEP group), who is working to establish an unacceptable compromise allowing electric fishing to continue and legitimizing illegal additional licences.
Despite these damaging political manoeuvres, MEPs once again showed their clear and dominant opposition to electric fishing. A position that echoes BLOOM’s latest revelations regarding the allocation of 21.5 million euros in subsidies to electric fishing since 2007, including 2.7 million euros to an explicitly forbidden fishing technique, the electric otter trawl. Finally some good news. However, this vote will have to be endorsed during a plenary session with the 751 MEPs in the near future. Then, the decision will be debated during a Trilogue between the three institutions: the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the Union.
 See the article by Michel Morin, former jurist at the EU Commission, who analysed the dysfunctions of the EU Commission using electric fishing as a case study. He explains in particular how electric fishing is coined by the Commission as an “innovative fishing technique”. Available at: http://www.tradevenvironment.eu/uploads/2018_1_Morin.pdf
 See which operations are not eligible to EU funds as listed in article 13 of the European Commission proposal: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/com/2018/0390/COM_COM(2018)0390_FR.pdf