French Environment Minister calls for a true European ban on pulse fishing

Paris, 2 March 2017

BLOOM welcomes the position of the French Minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea, Mrs Ségolène Royal, who strongly opposed, in a letter sent to the European Commission on 24 February 2017, the exemptions granted to vessels allowing them to practice pulse fishing in EU waters despite this fishing technique being prohibited.

The electrocution of marine fauna

Pulse fishing is a fishing technique that involves sending electroshocks into the sediment to capture more easily the flatfish that live in it. This fishing method is strongly criticized for its “hyper” effectiveness in catching all marine organisms and for its violent impacts on the marine fauna: the fish brought up in the trawls often show burns, ecchymoses and skeleton deformations consecutive to the electrocution.[1]

→ To learn more about electric fishing, visit our page.

Pulse fishing was prohibited in 1998 by the European Commission[2] but is subject to “experimental” derogations since 2007[3]. These derogations are the results of intense lobbying by the Dutch fishing industry, which obtained that 5% of the trawl fleet from each Member State be authorized to be equipped with electric trawls. Once the quota had been reached in 2010[4], the Dutch succeeded in obtaining a threshold increase enabling each Member State to equip 10% of its trawl fleet with electric gear.

A Dutch appetite for European fleets

Having rapidly reached the quota threshold, the Dutch began buying ships in neighbouring countries: Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom… The special permits granted by the European Commission allow the Dutch to extend the use of pulse fishing across Europe through the purchase of industrial fleets by Dutch giants like Cornelis Vrolijk or Parlevliet & Van der Plas which have already taken control of French fleets such as Euronor or Compagnie des Pêches de Saint Malo.

Ségolène Royal on a mission to save the ocean

Claire Nouvian, founder of BLOOM, said “it is necessary to act now, before French fishermen are seduced by the siren call of the Dutch fishing industry. France is best poised to ask Europe (notably via the European Regulation on technical measures) the end of these unjustified exemptions“. BLOOM recalls that the Commission already granted shark-finning derogations to Iberian ships until a long NGO campaign succeeded in ending it in 2013. “It is time for the Commission to adopt a clear and ambitious legislative line of conduct that is exempt from this kind of conflicts of interests. We strongly support Minister Ségolène Royal in the common sense approach she has just undertaken. The Minister of Ecology had already saved the honour of France by supporting the ban on deep-sea bottom trawling in 2015, it would be great if she could rid Europe of this new ecological and ethical aberration: the electrocution of fish!” hopes Nouvian.

The Race Forward of Industrial Fisheries

Pulse fishing is a barbaric fishing technique which impacts marine organisms in completely unknown ways. We should completely overhaul the way we exploit the ocean” says Frédéric Le Manach, BLOOM’s scientific director, who also underlines the cause of such unacceptable developments in industrial fisheries: our utter failure to sustainably manage fish populations. “It is necessary to stop this race forward, which consists in inventing war machines that are ever more efficient in order to compensate for declining wild resources. The future of European seas and fisheries is at stake.

BLOOM now hopes that the Commission and other European institutions will hear Mrs Royal’s pledge, especially with the reform of the Technical Measures Regulation just starting its legislative journey.


To know more:

During the national consultation on the sea and the coast, BLOOM called on France to propose a total European moratorium on this fishing technique. We therefore congratulate Mrs Royal and Mr Vidalies for their commitment and welcome this request very favorably.

Read more about pulse fishing here.


[2] Council Regulation (EC) No 850/98 for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures for the protection of juveniles of marine organisms.

[3] European Community (2007) Council Regulation (EC) No 41/2007 of 21 December 2006 fixing for 2007 the fishing opportunities and associated conditions for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Community waters and, for Community vessels, in waters where catch limitations are required. Official Journal L 15: 244.


Share :