Here’s the timeline of our campaign against electric fishing, so called “pulse fishing” to confuse people’s minds. It all started in 2016…
Let’s fight until victory, together!
4 Oct. 2016: BLOOM sends a letter to the French National Fisheries Committee (CNPMEM) to develop a joint position in favor of a full ban on electric fishing
In its letter, BLOOM asked the Committee to support a full ban on electric pulse fishing, due to our concerns regarding ecosystem impacts and the clear opposition to this technique by French fishers. We have never received any official response to our letter.
24 Feb. 2017: French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal requests a moratorium on electric fishing
In a letter sent to Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Ségolène Royal (Chair of COP21 and former French Minister of Ecology) advocated for a ban on electric fishing.
21 June 2017: BLOOM rebuts electric fishing claims of sustainability at the European Parliament
Dutch fishing lobbies organize a conference at the European Parliament on 21 June 2017 on electric fishing. BLOOM attended the meeting and delivered a short speech to rebut flawed arguments heard during the presentation.
2 Oct. 2017: BLOOM files a complaint against the Netherlands
BLOOM’s campaign officially started on the 2nd of October 2017, when we filed a complaint to the European Commission against the Netherlands with regards to their unlawful exemptions.
=> See the media impact of our complaint against electric pulse fishing.
2 Oct. 2017: a weak and problematic French position on electric fishing
French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Travert formulates the French official position explicitly: France will be opposed to exemptions granted to electric fishing beyond 5% of each Member State’s beam trawl fleet in the North Sea, but it does not question the existence and development of electric fishing. This is way too weak in the face of the problems posed by electric fishing on ecosystems and on the livelihoods of small-scale fishermen of Northern Europe.
9 Oct. 2017: priority question to the European Commission
French Green MEP Pascal Durand submits a priority question to the Commission about the unlawful number of exemptions that were granted to Dutch trawlers. The Commission is supposed to answer withing three weeks, but had still not provided any clarification on the matter after the Parliament’s vote (16 January 2018). The Commission will reply on 27 November (see below).
2 Nov. 2017: BLOOM launches a petition against electric pulse fishing
BLOOM launched a petition against electric pulse fishing before the PECH Committee vote of the Parliament (held on 21 November 2017) which was going to decide whether or not MEPs agreed to consider electric pulse fishing a potentially “conventional” fishing method (which it is not!).
6 Nov. 2017: small-scale fishermen from Northern France threaten to block ports depending on the outcome of the Parliament’s PECH Committee vote on 21 November
Sole gillnetters from Northern France announce that they will block the port of Calais if Members of the PECH Committee of the European Parliament vote for the expansion of electric fishing in Europe.
8 Nov. 2017: small-scale fishermen of Europe send an open letter to MEPs
The LIFE (Low Impact Fishers of Europe) platform writes to MEPs, asking them not to weaken the current framework on electric pulse fishing.
8 Nov. 2017: French MP Paul Christophe challenges the French Government on its position
French center-right MP Paul Christophe asserts that the French government’s position is not strong enough on electric fishing. The answer of the French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Travert is weak and ambiguous: “we will not defend electric fishing”.
14 Nov. 2017: meeting of shadow rapporteurs at the Parliament
MEPs of the Fisheries (PECH) Committee gathered to discuss the Technical Measures Regulation and determine a political compromise on electric ‘pulse’ fishing, which will most likely be adopted during the PECH Committee vote (and it was). See details on the Compromise position below (see outcome of the vote of 21 Nov. 2017).
14 Nov. 2017: Rt. Hon. Richard Benyon calls on the UK to fully ban electric fishing before leaving the E.U
At a Westminster Hall Debate, MP and former UK Minister for Fisheries and the Natural Environment (2010-2013) Rt. Hon. Richard Benyon said: “My final point is to ask, please, in the remaining months for which we are in the EU, that we hold it to account to make sure that pulse fishing is banned. […]” (at 15’22).
15 Nov. 2017: op-ed in Le Monde signed by politicians and scientists
An op-ed is published in Le Monde, in which politicians and scientists ask for a full ban on a destructive fishing method.
According to the signatories, “accepting the development of pulse fishing would also implicitly mean we admit failure: there are not enough fish left for fishers to fill their nets without needing increasingly efficient fishing gears“.
The op-ed was also published in Spanish in EfeVerde and La Vanguardia.
15 Nov. 2017: BLOOM’s campaign against electric fishing is featured on main French TV news
France 2, one of the main French TV channels, airs a 5 mn coverage on electric fishing in prime time.
16 Nov. 2017: BLOOM requests more transparency to the Dutch lobby
During a “Common Language Group” (CLG) meeting facilitated by Seafish in London on November 16th 2017, BLOOM reminded Dutch fishing lobby VisNed that we still did not have any clarification on the complaint that we had filed against the Netherlands to the European Commission regarding their illegal licenses. We also asked VisNed’s representative, Mr. Pim Visser, to provide us with the full list of beneficiaries of the 2007-2014 European Fisheries Fund (EFF). The Netherlands is one of the only EU coastal countries (along with Bulgaria, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Portugal) not to have published this list. This is unfortunate, as most vessels using pulse trawls would have been equipped under this Fund.
21 Nov. 2017: BLOOM’s petition gathers over 84 000 votes prior to the PECH Committee vote!
84 000 signatures were gathered before the vote on the Technical Measures Regulation by the European Parliament’s PECH Committee. BLOOM gathered several MEPs in a picture of supporters to the full ban. Thanks to our champions for supporting our campaign against electric pulse fishing, and thanks to all of you who signed the petition!
21 Nov. 2017: the European Parliament’s PECH Committee opens the door to the expansion of electric fishing
The European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee voted for a possible massive expansion of electric ‘pulse’ fishing in Europe. All the amendments tabled by MEPs under the direct influence of Dutch Fishing industry – which was loudly present in the room and reminded by MEPs to behave – were adopted.
The main compromise amendment (Compromise 10 on Article 24) concerning electric ‘pulse’ fishing in the Regulation on Technical Measures was adopted by 23 MEPs against 3. It approves the possible limitless commercial expansion of electric pulse fishing in Europe should research fail to demonstrate after four years “direct or cumulative negative impacts on marine habitats”.
=> Read our analysis of the vote outcome here
BLOOM’s presence with media and fishers ensured, by a close vote (one vote difference!) that at least the Rapporteur (Spanish EPP MEP Gabriel Mato) did not obtain a “mandate” from the Committee members to go straight into final Trilogue negotiations without first having to go through a Plenary vote process.
This gave our campaign a chance to turn around these bad results. Countdown was on because lobbies obtained that the Plenary vote would occur right after Christmas. Bearing in mind that the Parliament went into Christmas recess on Dec. 15 and reconvened on January 8, this only gave us about 3 weeks to reach out to 750 MEPs and alert them on the consequences of their vote!
21 Nov. 2017: NGOs despair over terrible PECH vote results
An NGO coalition including active members such as Seas-at-Risk, BirdLife, Humane Society International and ClientEarth strongly condemns the results of the PECH Committee vote as it jeopardizes fundamental protection measures for the ocean and juvenile fish, seabirds, sea mammals. Read the press statement of Seas-at-Risk.
BLOOM and NGOs acknowledge that a LOT of work needs to be done to improve such a bad vote. NGOs focus on the whole Regulation and BLOOM only on the electric fishing ban that the Regulation allows to implement. The countdown is on as the Plenary vote will be rushed through, leaving hardly no time to reach out to MEPs.
21 Nov. 2017: French MEP Younous Omarjee (GUE) requests a full ban on electric fishing
24 Nov. 2017: French MP Erwan Balanant requests a full ban
French MP Erwar Balanant (Presidential majority) asks for a full ban on electric fishing in an op-ed.
27 Nov. 2017: sole gillnetters from Northern France behind a full ban too
Following a meeting in Boulogne-sur-Mer, representatives of the sole netters sector announce that they want a full ban, i.e. no exemptions.
27 Nov. 2017: Commissioner Vella answers MEP Pascal Durand
Read the French Green MEP Pascal Durand’s priority question to the Commission and the answer here
Answer given by Commissioner for Fisheries Mr. Karmenu Vella on behalf of the Commission (27.11.2017):
“The Commission is currently examining the complaint lodged by BLOOM and is in the process of verifying the relevant infomation, notably as regards the exact number of licenses granted by the Netherlands pursuing to Article 31a of Regulation (EC) No 850/98<a href=”#_ftn1″ name=”_ftnref1″></a>.
As long as this verification is not completed, the Commission is neither in a position to provide the Honourable Member with an accurate state of play, nor to make any statement concerning compliance with the above-mentioned Article over the years.”
29 Nov. 2017: The amended version of the Regulation on Technical Measures is published
Following the vote of 21 November, the final version of the text amended by the PECH Commission is published.
29 Nov. 2017: French MP Joachim Son-Forget questions French government
MP from “La République en Marche” (President Macron’s party) Joachim Son-Forget asks the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Stéphane Travert a question about pulse fishing. He requests a “strong position, with no ambiguity against the extension of derogatory measures.”
4 Dec. 2017: Fishmongers and processors against electric fishing
Following up on the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee vote which opens the way to electric ‘pulse’ fishing, mobilisation continues among professionals.
On December 4, the Association des Poissonniers de France – a French organization that gathers 6 400 fishmongers, processors etc. of the fishing sector – published an official statement against electric pulse fishing and announced the boycott of seafood coming from the Netherlands until electric fishing is completely banned in Europe. The group declared that the PECH Committee vote was “unjustifiable and unreasonable”, and also alarmed on the environmental disaster that is taking place.
5 Dec. 2017: Giant French retailer Intermarché opposes electric fishing
On December 5, giant French retailer “Intermarché Agromousquetaires”announces a moratorium on electric fishing. Their press release highlights the negative impacts on marine ecosystems but also points to the economic and social threats for the artisanal fishing sector in the North Sea.
6 Dec. 2017: French small-scale fishermen support gillnetters from the North Sea
The French small-scale fishermen platform brilliantly put into perspective the development of electric fishing and subsequent issues that their small-scale fishermen colleagues face in the North Sea. The platform “strongly and unanimously” supports their fellow fishers in their fight against electric fishing. Their words speak volumes:
“Let’s not be mistaken: with the question of electric pulse fishing, it is once again the industrialisation issue of the small-scale fishing sector in France and Europe that is at stake. If we allow electric pulse fishing like we authorized giant Dutch, British and French trawlers, it will increase the power of industrials. Just like pelagic trawling, Danish seine, or any other super effective fishing gear, the rules of the game change each time a new technique, more efficient and more economical, emerges. It causes the smallest and the least performing fishers to go bankrupt and leads the other to embrace this new technique.”
7 Dec. 2017: Small-scale fishermen betrayed by their National Committee
Over thirty fishers from northern France go to Paris to demand the support of their National Committee of Fisheries (CNPEM) in their fight against electric fishing. Their request was clear: they wanted their Committee to show strong public support towards small-scale North Sea fishermen whose fishing resources are looted by the Dutch ultra-efficient electric trawls. They wanted their Committee’s support for a total ban on electric fishing in Europe, with no exemption possible. They also asked the Committee’s executives to pressure the French Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Stéphane Travert, in order to have his support on the file so he could ask for a total ban on electric fishing at the Council of EU Ministers instead of supporting industrial Dutch trawlers. Unfortunately, the Committee seems to have other fish to fry than helping small-scale fishers. The national representation clearly supports industrial interests rather than French small-scale fishermen. Their press release was crystal-clear: the Committee has struck a deal with the Dutch…
This could be the last round in a decade-long war between industrials and small-scale fishers. This time, the latter might get crushed by the former.
12 Dec. 2017: European petition to stop Electric Fishing in Europe
It will undoubtedly take time to achieve a ban on electric fishing, but with the support of citizens, BLOOM and colleagues from the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and the Pew Charitable Trusts have managed to get deep-sea trawling banned in Europe, so let’s get to work to show what we are capable of together!
13 Dec. 2017: French MP Adrien Quatennens challenges the French government
13 Dec. 2017: The Dutch Federation of Fish Wholesalers and Processors issues a letter against BLOOM
Visfederatie, the Dutch Federation of Fish Wholesalers issues a letter against BLOOM about our electric fishing campaign. This letter tries to weaken BLOOM’s arguments to insist on the “environmental benefits” of electric trawling (by, as usual, comparing it only to the worst, i.e. beam trawling). In so doing, Dutch lobbies give BLOOM ample acknowledgment of our extreme efficacy!
14 Dec. 2017: The Dutch government lobbies on behalf… of lobbies!
The Dutch embassy in Paris defends electric fishing in a press release which copies-pastes the arguments used by the Dutch fishing industry to make the case for the benefits of this technique. The Embassy in Paris targets French MPs that publicly raised their voice against electric fishing. This is the first time BLOOM has ever seen public funds and diplomatic services from a country being so directly used to lobby on behalf of an industry. This is particularly violet bearing in mind that even Dutch small-scale fishers speak up against the use of electric current. Here also, the government favors destructive, subsidy-dependent industrial practices to small-scale environmentally friendly methods. Outrageous.
18 Dec. 2017: French Socialist Party in the EU Parliament calls for a full ban
This press release recalls that electric fishing has strictly been forbidden in Europe since 1998, but also mentions the great doubts that still exist on the impact and damage of this fishing method.
The French socialist delegation in the European Parliament calls on MEPs to vote against electric fishing in Europe and asks the Parliament to delay the vote because the draft Plenary schedule does not allow NGOs and small-scale fishermen to make their voices heard.
On the following day, this statement is shared by Sylvie Guillaume, S&D MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament.
19 Dec. 2017: French MEP Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL) calls for a “ban on barbaric electric fishing in Europe”
20 Dec. 2017: The European Parliament’s Plenary vote will occur on 16 January 2018
The EP announces that the vote will take place on January 16th, 2018 in Strasbourg, which is too soon after the Christmas recess for us to reach out to the European Parliamentarians and make them aware of the great dangers electric fishing represents.
21 Dec. 2017: French MP Jean-Luc Mélenchon declares his opposition to pulse fishing
In his weekly review, MP and former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon strongly opposes the idea of legalizing this fishing method (beginning 21’10, in French).
26 Dec. 2017: Jean-Luc Mélenchon asks Parliamentary question
Jean-Luc Mélenchon questions France’s position on a total ban of electric pulse fishing and the lack of relevant and independent scientific research on this subject.
8 Jan. 2018: new revelations on a European scandal
As the European Parliament prepares to vote on whether to restore the 1998 ban on electric fishing or to authorise its wide use throughout Europe, a group of NGOs and fisher organizations send a joint letter to the European Commission revealing a compromising document, which questions the morality of its 2006 proposal to lift the ban on electric fishing.[i] The letter reveals that expert scientific advice to the Commission was blatantly ignored and requests the European Commission immediately withdraw all provisions concerning electric fishing from its legislative proposal on the Technical Measures Regulation,[ii] which will be voted by the European Parliament on 16 January 2018.
Read the press release in english
Read the press release in french
Read the press release in spanish
Read the press release in italian
9 Jan. 2018: Spanish small-scale fishermen support a full ban on electric fishing
The Lonxanet Foundation takes a public position for the ban on electric fishing in a statement and supports BLOOM. The foundation works for the Spanish small-scale fishery and gathers associations of small-scale fishermen.
10 Jan. 2018: the European Parliament under high tension
BLOOM co-organizes an event co-sponsored by the Greens/EFA, GUE/NGL, ALDE, ECR and S&D, during which several announcements are made demonstrating a strong mobilization of the public opinion and professional actors against fishing Electric: the Chefs Manifesto against electric fishing, the commitment of large retailers, the opposition of citizens to electric fishing, the position of intellectuals and fishermen.
During this event, MEPs were shown an “artivist” performance.
10 Jan. 2018: 249 French MPs sign an op-ed in Le Monde
249 French MPs took up the cause against the reintroduction of electric fishing in Europe in an op-ed called “Electric fishing:” This practice is shameful to Europe and discredits us on the international scene “.
10 Jan. 2018: Top European chefs take electric pulse fishing off the menu
13 Jan. 2018: Advocacy document against electric fishing
As part of our campaign against electric fishing, BLOOM releases an advocacy document that reviews the many environmental and social problems caused by electric fishing, but also the underlying political and financial scandal: in 2006, the European Commission went against scientific advice to allow this prohibited fishing method. Since then, millions of euros of public money have been injected into “research” and the equipment of fishing vessels with electric trawls.
Meanwhile, small-scale fishermen are going bankrupt.
Read our advocacy document here.
14 Jan. 2018: Rebuttal to Dutch electric trawl lobbies
As BLOOM’s campaign against electric fishing grows stronger, and as more and more voices rise up against this destructive fishing method ahead of the European Parliament’s vote on 16 January 2018, Dutch lobbies are desperately trying to counter our well-referenced arguments.
To this end, electric fishing lobby VisNed distributed an “information” document to MEPs, full of biased, erroneous or simply false arguments. Indeed, trying to depict electric trawling as a virtuous and sustainable by comparing it to one of the worst fishing methods — the beam trawl — is outrageous.
Read our rebuttal to the Dutch electric trawling lobbies here.
16 Jan. 2018: BLOOM’s petition reaches 105,000 signatures
16 Jan. 2018: MASSIVE VICTORY in the European Parliament
The Parliament firmly rejects the use of electric current to catch fish: 402 votes adopt a full ban, 232 reject it and 40 abstain. This is a radical victory for BLOOM and its 18 partner NGOs and Fishermen organizations as well as for citizens and common sense.
As lamented by other NGOs, the rest of the Technical Measures Regulation is nonetheless extremely damaging in many ways. Despite the massive victory on electric fishing, BLOOM’s press release acknowledges the damage done, as assessed by expert NGO Seas-at-Risk. Read their press release here about what is considered a “disastrous proposal”.
17 Jan. 2018: CARREFOUR announces that it will no longer sell products caught with electricity
“Carrefour France does not market species caught using an electric current. As of December, all of its suppliers have confirmed that they respect this exclusion (all fish sold in the fresh section and frozen fish under the Carrefour brand) according to the distributor’s website.
Carrefour joins Mericq, the fishmongers of France and the Agromousquetaire group, which initiated the movement in December 2017.
17 Jan. 2018: BIOCOOP supports the prohibition of electric fishing in Europe & congratulates BLOOM
21 Jan. 2018: Creation of a fake Twitter account by fishing lobbies “BLOOMISFAKENEWS”
The lobbies again try to discredit BLOOM and create a fake Twitter account “bloomisfakenews”. Our campaign is based on referenced arguments and we are attentive as to the origins of our sources.
24 Jan. 2018: Revelations on illegal licenses
A Dutch press article explains how the Netherlands has bypassed regulations in order to obtain more licenses than the law allows. BLOOM previously lodged a complaint about this on October 2nd, 2017.
25 Jan. 2018: Calais Port blocked by the gillnetters of northern France
Small-scale fishermen have blocked the port of Calais to demand that the French government defends the ban on electric fishing. They also demand exceptional financial assistance. Since the expansion of electric fishing, their catches are so low that they are at risk of bankruptcy. With this blockage, they hope to be heard by the authorities.
25 Jan. 2018: Three Dutch MEPs file a complaint against BLOOM
An article in the Dutch newspaper De Télégraaph reveals that Dutch MEPs Jan Huitema, Peter van Dalen, and Annie Schreier-Pierik have lodged a complaint with the EU Integrity Office against BLOOM. The reason? Lobbying on the basis of lies. The complaint was rejected.
26 Jan. 2018: GILLNETTERS get meeting in the MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE
The gillnetters of Hauts-de-France are received in the cabinet of Olivier Cunin (Adviser of animal sectors, fishing, and social performance at the Ministry of Agriculture) following the blocking of the port of Calais. An exceptional budget is to be released (its amount is yet to be confirmed). The government says it supports the ban on electric fishing in Europe.
26 Jan. 2018: Dutch scientist recognizes that after electric TRAWLS PASS, “YOU WILL FIND ONLY DEAD ANIMALS”
A very biased article in the Dutch newspaper NRC gives the floor to Dutch scientists. Adriaan Rijnsdorp (researcher at Wageningen University & Research) is quoted saying that after the electric trawling nets pass, everything dies. The researchers wait two days to take measurements, which calls into question the validity of the experimental protocol.
“The impact of beam trawls and electric powered trawls is now being studied in a straightforward way, WMR researchers, for example, take samples directly from the seabed before and after the fishermen leave. Such research at sea is laborious. By measuring right away, you will only find dead animals, “says Rijnsdorp. “So we measure two days later, when all the scavengers are gone.”
This is in agreement with the testimony of British, French and Belgian small-scale fishermen who proclaim to be fishing in a “cemetery” after the electric trawls pass.
27 Jan. 2018: DUTCH RESEARCHER QUESTIONS THE NECESSITY OF 84 SHIPS FOR “RESEARCH”
Adriaan Rijnshorp says in the Dutch press: “The Netherlands has broken the law in recent years by increasing the number of temporary permits. This seemed to be experimental, but the researchers never wrote a proposal for a research program that required 84 ships. In contact with other countries, the Netherlands has now indicated that there is an economic incentive in helping this troubled sector, the flatfish fishery. Fishing with electrical pulses is simply more profitable.”
29 Jan. 2018: Dutch GOVERNMENT gears up to fight PROHIBITION OF ELECTRIC FISHING IN EUROPE
Annie Schreijer (Dutch MEP) says Rutte (the Dutch Prime Minister) must negotiate directly with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel to reach a compromise. Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Netherlands, meets Stéphane Travert. She would like to involve the French in the research of electric fishing. She will also appoint a special envoy to lobby European member states to defend the electric fishery.
1st Feb. 2018: BLUE MARINE FOUNDATION SUPPORTS BLOOM’s CAMPAIGN
Blue Marine Foundation decides to campaign in the UK for the ban on electric fishing.
6 Feb. 2018: Weak DECLARATION OF FRENCH Fisheries MINISTER
Minister Stéphane Travert answers the written questions of Erwan Balanant and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, which ask for France’s position on electric fishing. The answers are identical, word for word. The government’s position remains ambiguous: “the French Government will reaffirm its opposition to any propagation of the electric trawl and will support the position taken by the European Parliament in calling for the maintenance of a ban. “
Indeed though the Minister is opposed to the propagation of electric fishing, his words lack firmness and commitment. BLOOM expects the government to form a coalition to defend the total ban on electric fishing, without possible exemptions.
8 Feb. 2018: French National Assembly’s EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE adopts a resolution on electric fishing
In the European Affairs Committee, French MPs unanimously adopted the motion for a resolution by Joachim Son Forget (LREM), in favor of a total ban on electric fishing, including arbitrary exemptions issued by the European Commission. This text aims to encourage the Minister Stéphane Travert to make commitments in defending the ban on electric fishing.
According to the MP Jean-Pierre Pont, the Commission “seeks to confirm the Dutch’s failure to respect the rule of 5% which they themselves published for electric fishing, a failure in which they were complicit by tolerating it and by refusing to sanction it, as was their duty.”
20 Feb. 2018: THE NETHERLANDS DEPLOYs its electric fishing ‘TASK FORCE’
Former Dutch Fisheries Minister Cees Veerman is named “ambassador” for electric fishing. His mission is to lobby governments in order to fight the ban and convince Member States to embrace electric fishing. Industrial lobbies around Europe back this approach and lobby there own governments, despite the social bloodbath caused in the fishing sector and small-scale sector.
21 Feb. 2018: ADOPTION OF THE MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION IN ECONOMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
The motion for a resolution to ban electric fishing in Europe (voted for on 8 February 2018 by the European Affairs Committee) is once again voted for unanimously in the Committee on Economic Affairs.
FEBRUARY 26th 2018: HEARING OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
The Commission has a closed hearing: it has to explain its 2006 decision to reintroduce electric fishing in Europe as well as the illegal number of exemptions that have been granted in the Netherlands. BLOOM forwarded its questions to MEPs, but the Commission lacked sincerity in its responses.
Liadh Ní Riada, Irish MEP, issues a press release following the Commission hearing due to the illegal licenses granted to the Netherlands. She wrote in particular that: “The granting of so many licenses was a slap in the face to the European Parliament, which voted to maintain the ban on electric powered trawling a few weeks ago” She also denounces the issuance of illegal licenses: “Due to the exploitation of a number of legal and regulatory loopholes, aided by questionable legal interpretations facilitated by the European Commission itself, a total of 84 of these licenses have been granted. “
MARCH 1st 2018: THE TELEVISION SHOW PUBLIC SENATE CANCELS CLAIRE NOUVIAN
Initially invited on set to debate about sustainable fishing (one of the themes being electric fishing), the organizers of the program Public Senate Live from the Salon de l’Agriculture, cancel Claire Nouvian. BLOOM is replaced by Ethic Ocean in the debate.
MARCH 6th 2018: THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY VOTES UNANIMOUSLY FOR THE PROHIBITION OF ELECTRIC FISHING IN EUROPE
On March 6th, the MPs’ resolution (LREM) Joachim Son-Forget and Jean-Pierre Pont’s call for a total ban on the use of electric currents to catch fish sparked a flood of agreement in the National Assembly. The unanimous vote of the MPs sends a strong message to the government.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food Stéphane Travert, who was present in the Chamber, clarified the position of France and affirmed its support for a total ban. BLOOM congratulates the government for its change of position but now waits for France’s plan
of action to create a qualified majority of member states in solidarity with its position in the Council.
MPs have rightly pointed out on several occasions that the trilogue negotiations (between the Commission, the Parliament and the Council of the EU) promised to be “tough” because of the fierce lobbying by the Dutch government fighting against the ban on electric fishing.
Read our press release
MARCH 13th 2018: AN ELECTRIC TRAWLER ARRESTED OFF DUNKIRK
A Dutch vessel was arrested for illegal mesh size in Dunkirk. After inspection of the catch, French authorities seized 200 kg of undersized fish that was however destined for sale. The same day saw the trial of F/V Cornelis Jacob, arrested a year earlier for the same infraction.
Read our report
Translation of the Facebook post: In Dunkirk, the fish seized from illegal electric trawling is in the process of being counted. 1,700kg of fish destined for sale, of which 800kg are sole. And that isn’t the end of it. They found that more than 200kg of the sole are undersized (smaller than 24cm), all gutted (not for nothing…). An additional infraction! Sickening to see the contempt of the rules!! We bend to the European regulations but the law isn’t the same for everyone. When will we be heard? Minister Stéphane Travert, Mr. Vella of the European Commission, listen to us, before electric trawling destroys all of the resources and us along with it. Small-scale fishermen of Europe count on your support for the trilogue: TOTAL ban on electric pulse fishing.
MARCH 19TH 2018: START OF THE TRILOGUE
Monday March 19th, the negotiations that will decide the fate of electric fishing as well as all of the technical measures put in place by the Common Fisheries Policy begin. They take place behind closed doors in complete institutional opacity.
Read our report
MARCH 21st 2018: MEETING BETWEEN PRESIDENT MACRON AND THE DUTCH PRIME MINISTER
On March 21st 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron met the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. During an open press conference, in response to a journalist’s question, the French President affirmed the position of France, favoring a total ban on electric pulse fishing: “I assure you that I am not in favor of electric fishing. I know that this subject is very controversial among our fishers. I also know that it has been proven to have a damaging effect on fish stocks and therefore I think that the European decision was a good one, (…) We will find other methods but we will do it intelligently in order to preserve the both of them, as well as the interests of our fishers”
Read our report
25 MARCH 2018: DUTCH JOURNALIST DENOUNCES LACK OF RESEARCH
A Dutch journalist, Thomas Spekschoor, has had access to the number of vessels equipped with electrodes that participated in research, year after year, in the Netherlands. He unveiled the research fraud in an article published in the journal NOS: despite the fact that 84 licenses were awarded to the Netherlands for research, there were, at most, 32 ships that were involved in research.
“It was a trick to obtain permits and use them to fish commercially because, in reality, many of the ships fished for years without a scientist ever coming on board” wrote the journalist.
Read our translation
26 March 2018: Weak response from Dutch fishing lobby VISNED
The fishing lobby Visserbond responded to the article published in NOS the day before. The author tried to justify the absence of research onboard electric trawlers. He explained that fishers didn’t have a choice but to ask for the licenses if they wanted to save their business from bankruptcy. Therefore, the motive of research had been overshadowed.
27 MARCH 2018: EUROPEAN COMMISSION ASKS THE NETHERLANDS TO JUSTIFY LICENSES GRANTED FOR SCIENTIFIC PURPOSES
Following the article published in NOS showing that the majority of ships were not participating in research, the European Commission asked the Netherlands if the researched had, in fact, taken place. As a matter of fact, the licenses granted between 2010 and 2014 were specifically granted for scientific research.
27 MARCH 2018: DUTCH FISHERIES MINISTER ACCUSES THE COMMISSION OF HAVING DELIVERED UNNECESSARY LICENSES
At the request of the European Commission, Dutch Minister in charge of fisheries Carola Schouten, explained that the licenses granted were done so while the vessels were not in involved in research. She declared: “Even when it became clear that scientific research was not being carried out, the Commission granted a 3rd series of exemptions.” She therefore blamed the European Commission for having granted these additional licenses.
29 MARCH 2018: NEW JUSTIFICATIONS FROM Dutch MINISTER
In a letter addresses to the Netherlands’ Parliament, Carola Schouten explains that the experiments on electric pulse fishing have been done. She equally explains that there isn’t any obligation to conduct research for the 22 licenses granted between 2007 and 2010. She therefore contradicts a 2006 press release that says the opposite.
“The fishing boats operating in zones IVb and IVc will be authorized to use electricity for experimental fishing and will be subject to strict conditions.”
30 MARCH 2018: NATURE & DÉCOUVERTES SUPPORTS the BAN ON ELECTRIC FISHING
French brand Nature & Découvertes put tablets in their stores allowing clients to sign BLOOM’s petition in favor of a full ban on electric fishing.
April 4th 2018: MOTION AGAINST THE PROHIBITION OF ELECTRIC PULSE FISHING FILED BY THE NETHERLANDS
Barry Madlener, a dutch MP from the “Party for Freedom” (Pvv) filed a motion for the government to refuse the total ban on electric pulse fishing during the trilogue. Mr Madlener suggested that the Prime Minister Rutte would take over the negotiations about the ban on electric pulse
April 10th, 2018: REJECTION OF THE MOTION AGAINST THE TOTAL BAN ON ELECTRIC PULSE FISHING
Barry Madlener’s motion is rejected with a large majority because the motion showed a lack of confidence toward the Minister Schouten. She replied that they have a policy that aims at discussing the advantages of the pulse with other member states and she did not think it was necessary to hand the negotiations over to Mr. Rutte.
April 13th 2018: THE COMMISSION RESPONDS TO OUR COMPLAINT OF OCTOBER 2nd, 2017
The Commission said it had transferred BLOOM’s complaint to the “EU Pilot”, a system supposed to allow “an informal exchange of information between the Commission and the Member State concerned“. But according to Claire Nouvian, this “pseudo-procedure” is actually meant to save time and to avoid formally launching an infringement procedure. “The Commission had 12 months after we filed our first complaint to decide whether it would launch a formal procedure against the Netherlands. When, after six months, the Commission replied that our complaint was transmitted to an “informal” mechanism whose stated purpose is to avoid, if possible, “formal infringement proceedings”, it’s almost a public admission of its bias in favour of those who trample on European law. The Commission is the Guardian of the Treaties, it is supposed to be “politically independent”. If the executive arm of the EU does not defend the general interest and democracy, especially at a sensitive time of Trilogue political negotiations, which must decide whether or not to ban electric fishing in Europe, then how much can citizens trust EU institutions?” Nouvian asked.
April 15th, 2018: BLOOM PUBLISHES AN UPDATE OF ITS ADVOCACY DOCUMENT
The research funded by BLOOM allowed for an update of the advocacy document published in January 2018. This new version considers the revelations concerning the political and financial scandal that were brought to light during BLOOM’s campaign.
April 16TH 2018: BLOOM files a second complaint against the Netherlands
This EU Member State does not respect the EU rules. BLOOM decided to challenge the European Commission again about the failure of the Dutch government to comply with European law: the Netherlands is the only major fishing nation in Europe to have not published data about the public subsidies that were allocated to Dutch fleets between 2007 and 2014.
This period corresponds to the illegal, illegitimate, and abusive, development of electric pulse fishing with 84 licenses granted under the title of “research”.
Read our complaint
Read our press release
April 16TH 2018: BLOOM ASKS THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO BE IMPARTIAL
In a letter, BLOOM calls on the European Commission to act impartially and to “take all necessary measures” to ensure the Netherlands complies with EU rules, whether it is about the unlawful number of licenses or about breaching financial transparency requirements.
17-19 APRIL 2018: Expert working group “WGELECTRA” meets to work ON ELECTRIC FISHING
Scientists discuss research on electric fishing for three days. For the first time, a scientist from IFREMER was present. Several issues of concern will not be addressed by the Dutch so-called ‘research’:
- The impact of electricity on eggs of sole.
- The socio-economic impact of electric fishing on other fleets.
Also, we had confirmation that the computer set up on vessels to record parameters does record the voltage but not the frequency of the electric current. This is a key parameter that can render the gear more efficient and thus more dangerous. Uncontrolled frequency is why China has seriously damaged its ecosystems before banning electric fishing in 2000.
24 APRIL 2018: THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION ACKNOWLEDGES RECEIPT OF OUR COMPLAINT FROM 16 APRIL 2018
BLOOM receives an email confirming that the Commission had received our second complaint against the Netherlands, which concerned the non-publication of data pertaining to the subsidies allocated to their fishing fleets between 2007 and 2014.
30 APRIL 2018: CLAIRE NOUVIAN SLAMS THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT’S INACTION ON LIVE TV
4 MAY 2018: PUBLICATION OF A CONTROVERSIAL STUDY
The Belgian Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO) studied the impacts of electric current on eggs and larvae of soles. But the scientific protocol bore fundamental flaws and a questionable methodology. For example, the samples were contaminated with a fungus but the experiment carried on by treating the eggs with a chemical. ILVO has thus found itself publishing extravagant data claiming that electricity increases embryos’ survival! The Dutch Telegraaph newspaper seized the opportunity to claim that electricity had no impact on fish stocks. Dutch MEP Peter van Dalen built on this to assert that the European Parliament had made a mistake by voting for the ban on electric fishing last January. A nice line up…
>Read our rebuttal
7 MAY 2018: Green MEP YANNICK JADOT visits FRENCH SMALL-SCALE FISHERMEN
MEP Yannick Jadot went out to sea with French gillnetters to witness firsthand the damage done by electric fishing on marine ecosystems and livelihoods in the North Sea. Yannick Jadot also challenged French President Emmanuel Macron, Minister of Ecology Nicolas Hulot and Minister of Food and Agriculture Stéphane Travert so that France respects its commitments and defends the ban on electric fishing at the European level.
15 MAY 2018: EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER KARMENU VELLA SPEAKS AT THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
To the question by Dutch MEP Peter van Dalen, Mr. Vella answered that: “to pulse, I was present for the parliamentary discussion. To be honest, I think the discussion was, again, more political than scientific. Why am I saying this. Because we have scientific assessments, and the scientific assessments are very very clear. Again, we can be consistent when it comes to science. I don’t think we can be very consistent when it comes to political approaches. But, again, I have noted the European Parliament’s position on that.”
This response highlights yet again the full support of the European Commission to the electric lobby. Shamefully, results of the so-called ‘science’ are distorted: scientific studies have shown that electricity was harmful for cod eggs (delayed hatching, increased larvae mortality), that it caused fractures and hemorrhages in large cod, high discard rates (50-70%) etc.
23 MAY 2018: CITIZENS Call on PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON to mobilize French diplomacy for a “win”!
Since our collective victory at the European Parliament in January 2018, French diplomatic services have done nothing to secure an EU-wide ban on electric fishing. BLOOM launches a cartoon to explain European negotiations and to call on French citizens to email or tweet the French President.
>Read the cartoon by Capucine Dupuy & Terreur Graphique
30 May 2018: PUBLICATION OF ICES’ WGELECTRA REPORT
This report results from the scientific meeting that was held on 17-19 April 2018. These scientists assessed the research carried out by two institutes: ILVO (Belgium) and Wageningen University (Netherlands). In this report, the authors list issues that have still not been addressed, including the long-term effects of electricity and the social impact on foreign fleets (trawls and inshore fisheries, including small-sale and shrimp fisheries).
30 May 2018: ICES RESPONDS TO A SPECIAL REQUEST FROM THE NETHERLANDS
Right after the European Parliament’s vote, the Netherlands asked ICES to “compare the ecological and environmental effects of using traditional beam trawls or pulse trawls when exploiting the TAC of North Sea sole“. This request was designed to insinuate doubts as it requested a comparison of electric fishing with one of the most destructive fishing gears there is. Although this biased question could only result in a positive outcome for electric trawls — given the poor quality of the research that was conducted — being ‘better’ than the worst fishing gears certainly does not make electric ‘good’, let alone ‘sustainable’. It also ignores social impacts.
The scientific advice of ICES is particularly shocking because science so ostensibly serves political purposes. This is a blatant contradiction of this international scientific body’s mission.
4 June 2018: BLOOM CRITICIZES THE ICES SPECIAL ADVICE
Nothing new in the ICES report but plenty cherry-picking of data to advocate that electric fishing is ‘sustainable’. European science obviously needs a check and balance process to avoid being so grossly instrumentalized to political ends. Citizens are entitled to expect more integrity and independence from European science and political institutions.
> read our analysis of the ICES Advice.
4 June 2018: 25 NGOs AND FISHERMEN groups PUBLISH A JOINT POSITION TO DEMAND THE PROHIBITION OF ELECTRIC FISHING
A coalition of NGOs and fishermen associations publishes a joint position, sent to all EU decision-makers. These 25 organizations expect scientists, Member States and the European Commission to live up to the expectations of European citizens to arbitrate matters with integrity, impartiality and with a constant strive to implement Europe’s commitments to restore its marine ecosystems, biodiversity, to safeguard our common future and the survival of traditional fishers as well as to defend the general interest against private interests.
> Read the joint position of 25 fishermen organizations and environmental NGOs
4 June 2018: BLOOM REQUESTS IFREMER TO PUBLISH A CONFIDENTIAL REPORT ON THE MORTALITY OF SEABASS LARVAE DUE TO ELECTRICITY
The French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) produced an expert report in 2016 following significant mortality of seabass larvae at Aquastream, a company located in Brittany. This French hatchery provided many customers in several countries, mainly in the Mediterranean basin. Unfortunately, it went bankrupt and closed in 2017 as a result of significant losses related to mortality of their seabass larvae. It seems that these important mortality rates were due to the presence of weak electric currents in the tanks.
> Read BLOOM’s request to the IFREMER
7 June 2018: Yet again, DUTCH MEPs PETER VAN DALEN AND ANNIE SCHREIJER ATTACK BLOOM
MEPs Peter van Dalen and Annie Schreijer indicate that they have launched a procedure to ban BLOOM from the European Parliament. They accuse BLOOM of spreading lies and fake news on electric fishing. These industry lobbyists are trying to discredit us, while Trilogue negotiations are due to take place shortly.
In parallel, Peter van Dalen distorts scientific facts on Twitter to fit the satisfy the electric lobby’s agenda.
13 June 2018: FISHERS AND NGOs CALL ON THE EUROPEAN ANTI-FRAUD OFFICE TO INVESTIGATE the ELECTRIC FISHERY
Despite the non-compliance of the Dutch Government with the EU transparency requirements regarding the publication of financial data provided to the fishing sector, there is evidence that Dutch electric vessels and research institutes were granted substantial amounts of undue public subsidies. Fishers and NGOs jointly question the legality of these public expenditures and request the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to investigate the potential fraud.
Remarkably, coastal and small-scale fishermen from the Netherlands joined the coalition of NGOs and fishers for the first time. C-Life and IJmuiden fishermen now openly support the fight against electric fishing which is driving them to bankruptcy.
Our anti-fraud investigation request generated the interest of the media. In the Netherlands, NOS published an article echoing the fundamental transparency flaw of the Dutch government with regards to public subsidies, the amount of electric fishing licences and the scientific activities which were not carried out. The Dutch government reacted that it was “nonsense that profits have to be paid back to the subsidy provider”. Nervousness becomes palpable.
Andries Visser of IJmuiden Vissers said: “If a pulse fishing ship is passing by, there is nothing more to catch for us, leaving the sea behind like a graveyard.” That type of fishing should never have been subsidized according to him.
14 June 2018: BLOOM asks Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to publish fisheries subsidies data
Following our complaint against the Netherlands and our collective request to the EU Anti-Fraud Office to investigate potential fraud in the Electric fishery, BLOOM urges Prime Minister Mark Rutte to arbitrate in four of transparency. Read our letter.
18 June 2018: BLOOM and its allies organize EU-wide mobilization in fishing ports
Small-scale and traditional fishermen across the EU mobilize in ports in a simultaneous action of resistance to protest against electric fishing and to call on public decision-makers to definitively ban this destructive fishing technique in Europe.
18 June 2018: BLOOM publishes “Hand in Hand”, a report on the moral corruption of public decision making
BLOOM puts together a dossier showing the moral corruption unveiled by the electric fishing and how dysfunctional EU institutions can be when under the influence of industry lobbies. Read our report “HAND IN HAND”.
21 June 2018: French research institute IFREMER criticizes the ICES opinion on electric fishing
21 June 2018: Parliament suspends EU negotiations on Technical Measures Regulation and electric fishing
On a proposal by the vociferous Dutch MEP Peter Van Dalen, the Parliament decides to consult Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) on the Regulation. RACs have until 15 Sept. 2018 to give an opinion.
2 JULY 2018: INVITATION OF AN ARMAMENT FROM BOULOGNE-SUR-MER TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSIONS WITH THE ELECTRIC FISHING LOBBIES
The Dutch industry is trying by all means to convince France of the economic benefits of electric trawling by inviting two French manufacturers to their meeting.
5 JULY 2018: FRANCE COMMITTED TO DEFENDING THE PROHIBITION OF ELECTRIC FISHING, ONCE MORE …
Nicloas Hulot puts down the ban on electric fishing in the biodiversity plan. BLOOM hopes concrete actions.
11 JULY 2018: REQUEST FILED TO THE NEW AUSTRIAN PRESIDENCY TO CONCLUDE THE EUROPEAN NEGOTIATIONS
BLOOM and its coalition asked the new Austrian Council Presidency to conclude the European negotiations and to ban electric fishing. If an agreement is not reached before the end of 2018, European elections may jeopardize the adoption of a resolution.
> Read the letter we sent to Austrian Presidency
11 JULY 2018: KARMENU VELLA IS INVITED BY SEVEN FRENCH MEPs TO COME WITNESS ELECTRIC FISHING EFFECTS ON SMALL-SCALE FISHING
Yannick Jadot and 6 other MEPS invited Karmenu Vella to go to Boulogne-sur-Mer to participate in a fishing outing, an opportunity for the European Commissioner to listen to other stakeholders than electric fishing lobbies.
12 JULY 2018: ERROR IN THE FAO REPORT
In one of its two reports, the FAO makes the mistake of stating that electric fishing would provide substantial energy savings. However, conventional beam trawls catch only 420 g of fish per liter of fuel consumed compared to 450 g for electric trawls.
Electric trawls are more efficient for catching sole (a valuable fish) than the gear they are meant to replace (traditional beam trawls). They are reaching their quotas faster than the traditional beam trawls used to.
JULY 12, 2018: THE GILLNETTERS FROM BOULOGNE-SUR-MER AND CALAIS PUBLISH ALARMING DATA
The data are alarming. The catches of soles are in free fall in Boulogne. Small-scale fishermen may disappear if electric fishing is not quickly banned.
400T de soles débarquées en 2017 à Boulogne contre plus de 1000T en 2010. Depuis que la #PêcheElectrique existe, les fileyeurs ont perdu 60% de leur CA en soles. Cette année, 7 bateaux sont partis à la démolition. Le temps presse: interdisez #PecheElectrique #StopElectricFishing pic.twitter.com/RDABAJenak
— Fileyeurs Hauts-de-France (@fileyeurs) July 12, 2018
JULY 14, 2018: A DOCUMENTARY ON BLOOM IS PROJECTED ON GIANT SCREENS AT THE ‘CHAMPS DE MARS’
The Paris City Hall puts ecology in the spotlight during the great concert of July 14th (Bastille Day) and during the finals of the football world cup of July 15th.
21 September 2018: FORMER JURIST AT THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION CONFIRMS SCANDALS REVEALED BY BLOOM
The conclusions of the author (Michel Morin) about the legality of the authorization of electric fishing are unequivocal:
- The derogations granted at the end of 2006 and allowing the use of electric current to catch fish were made against an explicit scientific advice, as well as the other successive decisions.
- The European Commission used irregular procedures to introduce derogations related to a fishing technique in a regulation on fishing quotas (the derogations should therefore not have been included there).
- The Netherlands have made a clear infringement by granting a number of licences far in excess of the regulatory framework.
- European subsidies that benefited these licenses exceeding the regulatory framework should not have been authorised.
- The fishing activity is clearly commercial and cannot be considered as a scientific fishery.
- A strangely defined article on “innovative fishing gears” (Article 24) in the Technical Measures Regulation currently under negotiation should be suppressed, as it opens a dangerous legal loophole: it enables new derogations to electric fishing to be legally granted.
> Read our analysis
> Read Michel Morin’s article
1st October 2018: A new complaint against electric fishing
The Blue Marine Foundation filed a complaint to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment, highlighting that EU Member States and the European Commission had permitted fishing vessels to undertake electric fishing inside the Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation in breach of several articles of the Habitats Directive.
> Read BLUE’s press release
BLOOM tracked the fishing activities of 87 electric ‘pulse’ trawlers between 2015 and September 2018 (84 vessels flagged in the Netherlands and three in the UK, but Dutch-owned) and found that eight trawlers had been fishing in the Dogger Bank, a zone of great interest and biodiversity richness, which enjoys a protected status since 2012 under Europe’s Habitats Directive, and which was designated as a “Special Area of Conservation” in 2017.
> Read BLOOM’s press release
4 October 2018: SCANDALOUS DENIAL OF DEMOCRACY IN THE EUROPEAN NEGOTIATIONS ON ELECTRIC FISHING
Negotiations on the Technical Measures Regulation, which will decide the fate of electric fishing in Europe, resumed after a long summer break. The three institutions (Commission, Council and Parliament) met in the Parliament in Strasbourg in a closed-door “Trilogue” meeting.
Gabriel Mato showed his true colors by categorically refusing that the political group of the European United Left (“GUE”) be represented by French MEP Younous Omarjee. The latter, commissioned by his group, went to the Trilogue meeting but was expelled by Gabriel Mato in a violent denial of democracy denounced by Younous Omarjee in a video posted on Twitter.
The Chair of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, French MEP Alain Cadec (EPP group), stated on Twitter that the rapporteur (Gabriel Mato) had “a clear mandate from the Parliament for a full ban on electric fishing”. He added: “we will be very vigilant and if necessary the plenary session will confirm the first reading”.
> Read our press release
4 October 2018: a new trilogue, a scandalous compromise
Yannick Jadot published the compromise proposal, a true Trojan horse of the Dutch electric fishing lobby which made it possible to legalize the current derogations. This proposal has fortunately not been adopted.
> Read our analysis
8 October 2018: A new petition against electric fishing
BLOOM launched a new petition asking French President Emmanuel Macron to defend and fully engage French diplomacy for a total ban on electric fishing in Europe.
11 OCTOBER 2018: THE NORTHERN GILLNETTERS INVITE THE PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON TO BOULOGNE-SUR-MER
Stéphane Pinto, Vice-President of the Regional Fisheries Committee and representative of the gillnetters of Hauts-de-France, has sent an invitation to French President Emmanuel Macron to come to Boulogne to measure the profession’s distress due to electric trawling.
12 OCTOBER 2018: THE NETHERLANDS CONTINUE THEIR LOBBYING … EVEN IN FRANCE!
Peter van Dalen – a Dutch MEP who fiercely defends electric fishing – and Pim Visser – representative of the Dutch industrial fleet – were invited to a seminar on Friday (October 12th) at Boulogne-sur-Mer. They were welcomed by Frédéric Cuvillier, Mayor of Boulogne and former French Minister in charge of Fisheries, while small-scale fishermen were not invited. This troubling game of locally elected public officials added anger to the distress of small-scale fishermen.
If the theme was officially about Brexit and trade, electric fishing was not excluded from the discussions: Peter van Dalen announced in a video that he had a meeting with one of the cabinet members of the French President to convince the French about the advantages of electric fishing.
OCTOBER 16, 2018: NEW MOBILIZATION FROM CHEFS AGAINST ELECTRIC FISHING
The Chef members of the Relais & Châteaux network take the floor against the electric fishing. They became mobilized alongside BLOOM at the invitation of Chef Christopher Coutanceau in January 2018. They are now joined by the members of the other chef network, “Euro-Toques”, which has 300 members in France.
> Find the interactive map of the mobilized leaders.
> Find the addresses of Relais & Châteaux’s member chefs:
- Olivier Roellinger, President of Relais & Châteaux, les maisons de Bricourt (35)
- Christopher Coutanceau, Maison Coutanceau à la Rochelle (17)
- Michel Guérard, Les Prés d’Eugénie à Eugénie les Bains (40)
- Régis Marcon, Régis & Jacques Marcon à Saint-Bonnet le Froid (43)
- Julien Dumas, Lucas Carton, Paris (75)
- Julien Lucas, La Table du Connétable à Chantilly (60)
- Cédric Béchade, l’Auberge Basque à Saint-Pée sur Nivelle (64)
- In Portugal : Rogerio Calhau, Casa Valha do Palheiro
> Find the addresses of Relais & Châteaux’s member chefs:
- Rémi Lebon, Chez Fernand, Paris (75)
- Jacques Brugger, La Griotte, Saules (25)
- Kévin Daïnoto, le K Barré, Grenoble (38)
- David Darnajoux, la Brasserie des Arts, Ornans (25)
- Marc Hammani, le Bouchon, Amiens (80)
- Patrick Lopez, la Mirabelle, Cannes (06)
- Frédéric Pastorino, les Capucins, Belfort (90)
- Axel Poulet, Lyon (69)
- Emilien Rouable, Lieusaint (77)
17 OCTOBER 2018: MEDIA PUBLISH A LETTER BY GILLNETTERS INVITING FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON
TV channel France 3 broadcasts the invitation of the gillnetters
Radio channel Radio 6 broadcasts the testimony of Stéphane Pinto
Newspaper ‘La Voix du Nord’ interviews Stéphane Pinto about his invitation to Emmanuel Macron and the scandalous compromise that aims at authorizing electric trawling.
OCTOBER 19, 2018: FISHERMEN CALL CITIZENS TO DEMONSTRATE ON NOVEMBER 3
Fishermen invite citizens to support them during a demonstration. They demand the ban on electric fishing in Europe and request the support of elected officials.
These mobilizations will take place:
- In Boulogne-sur-Mer (France), from 2.30 pm at Gambetta pier.
- In Niewpoort (Belgium), from 10.30 am at the fish auction dock.
OCTOBER 22, 2018: THE “DUNKERQUE-LITTORAL” COMMUNIST PARTY BRANCH SUPPORTS SMALL-SCALE FISHERMEN
The French Communist Party of Dunkerque supports gillnetters who demand a total ban on electric fishing. He denounces the ecological and social catastrophe of this technique. BLOOM supports this call for Emmanuel Macron to strongly defend the ban on electric fishing.
November 3, 2018: Demonstration against electric fishing in Niewpoort (Belgium) and Boulogne-sur-Mer (France)
November 6, 2018: Press conference at the European Parliament
It has been over a year since BLOOM filed a complaint against the Netherlands, exposing the illegality of most electric fishing licenses granted to Dutch vessels to practice this destructive fishing method banned in Europe until 2006. The European Commission had one year to respond to our request registered on 2 October 2017. The Commission has failed to respond to our complaint and, in doing so, is seriously hampering European negotiations on the future of electric fishing. BLOOM turns to the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, who is in charge of arbitrating cases of maladministration by European institutions, transparency and ethics, so that she can assess the serious administrative failure of the European Commission in the ‘electric fishing’ case.
At least 21.5 million euros of public subsidies have been allocated to support, legitimize and develop electric fishing in the Netherlands since 2007 through two European financial instruments: € 14.3 million from the European Fisheries Fund (between 2008 and 2016) and € 6.5 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) since 2017. 2.7 million euros, have been used to develop a fishing method that is explicitly prohibited by European regulations: electric otter trawls.
Read our press release:
Watch the speech at the conference:
> Yannick Jadot (MEP)
> Younous Omarjee (MEP)
> John Flack (MEP)
> Claire Nouvian
> Michel Morin
> Frédéric le Manach
> Sebastian Villacante
November 6, 2018: BLOOM has updated its advocacy document
BLOOM has updated its advocacy document, available at www.bloomassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/plaidoyer-peche-electrique-v3.pdf. The public, politicians and the media thus have new elements demonstrating the need to ban electric fishing in Europe.
Our coalition is strengthened by the support of Slow Food, Shark Project and Italian artisanal fishermen from the Cooperativa pescatori di Su Pallosu.
November 14, 2018: A technical meeting held at the European Parliament
A technical meeting was held at the European Parliament to discuss a possible compromise on electric fishing. A proposal by Spanish MEP Gabriel Mato, rapporteur of the regulation on “technical measures”, is worrying and in stark contrast with the clear mandate given by the European Parliament on 16 January 2018.
> Read our article
No compromise in Parliament has been found. However, the assistant of MEP Younous Omarjee, was forced to leave the room.
November 15, 2018: meeting between the gillnetters and the cabinet of the Minister of Agriculture
Initially planned with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, the meeting was held with a member from the cabinet of the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. It seems that the government has once again made promises, but gillnetters are not satisfied with speeches. They ask for real and urgent action from the government so that electric fishing is finally banned.
November 18, 2018: Claire Nouvian is the guest of Michel Drucker on his famous TV show “Vivement Dimanche”
19 November 2018: President Macron turns down the gillnetters’ invitation to visit them in Boulogne-sur-Mer
In a Tweet, the gillnetters published the reply by French President Emmanuel Macro to their invitation sent on October 11, 2018. Stéphane Pinto, representative of the gillnetters of Hauts-de-France, wanted Emmanuel Macron to come to Boulogne-sur-Mer to fully understand the difficulties faced by small-scale fishermen because of electric fishing.
The President refused to meet the gillnetters. Despite a speech in which he claims his opposition to electric fishing, the French President has not yet taken concrete action to prevent electric fishing in Europe.
Le président @EmmanuelMacron ne peut se déplacer pour nous rencontrer..grosse déception. Déclarer que la France s oppose à la pêche électrique est insuffisant. Nous voulons des actes.que le @gouvernementFR aille convaincre les autres chefs d état pour gagner ce combat.. pic.twitter.com/UOBQNzO7MN
— Fileyeurs Hauts-de-France (@fileyeurs) November 19, 2018
November 19, 2018: Xavier Bertrand writes to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
The President of the Hauts-de-France region asks Didier Guillaume, the French Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to urgently take concrete action to ensure that the ban on electric fishing is adopted by Europe. In particular, he suggests that BLOOM’s complaints be taken over by France itself to put pressure on the Council and the European Commission.
November 20, 2018: THE ENVI COMMITTEE EXCLUDES ELECTRIC FISHING FROM THE LIST OF ACTIVITIES LIABLE TO RECEIVE FUNDING AS OF 2021
On Tuesday 20th of November 2018, MEPs from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted two amendments to ban European subsidies for electric fishing.
> Read our article
La pêche électrique non merci ! Vote à l’instant en commission environnement contre le financement par des fonds européens de la recherche sur la #pêcheélectrique #pulsefishing #electricpulsefishing pic.twitter.com/COoDyCa2u0
— Frédérique Ries (@Frederiqueries) November 20, 2018
November 23, 2018: THE EUROPEAN OMBUDSMAN REMINDS THE COMMISSION OF ITS DUTIES
The European Ombudsman services informed us on 23 November 2018 that they were looking into the affair on the illegal electric fishing licences and had opened an investigation. The European Ombudsman contacted the Commission and asked it to inform us of the status of our complaint.
> Read our article
November 28, 2018: BLOOM published an op-ed: Electric pulse fishing, symbol of a decomposing Europe
The little arrangements between EU institutions and lobbyists of electric fishing reveal an alarming dysfunction.
> Read our op-ed in Vox-europ
December 5, 2018: ANALYSIS OF RAPPORTEUR GABRIEL MATO’S COMPROMISE PROPOSAL
Spanish MEP Gabriel Mato is at it again. By proposing an unacceptable compromise — overly complexified by many provisions as useless as dangerous — the Rapporteur of the ‘Technical measures’ regulation violates the mandate that was clearly defined by the European Parliament during its plenary session of 16 January 2018.
In particular, the draft compromise produced by Mr Mato:
- Still authorizes each Member State to equip up to 5% of its beam trawl fleets;
- Legitimizes the 70 illegal Dutch licenses (beyond the 5% legal ceiling) until 31 December 2021, although 42 of them are due to expire in February 2019;
- Suggests a roadmap to allow electric fishing in all European waters despite the advertised ban;
- Continues to instrumentalize science, althouh the Dutch have fooled the whole Europe with this excuse for over ten years. Read our analysis on the instrumentalisation of science
> Read our detailed analysis of the draft compromise
December 5, 2018: JOINT LETTER ON ELECTRIC FISHING
32 NGOs and artisanal fishers’ organisations sent a joint letter to all European decision-makers (MEPs, Permanent Representations, European Commission) to sound the alarm on the lack of transparency and mismanagement of the ongoing negotiations on electric fishing.
> Read the join letter
DECEMBER 14, 2018: GEORGE EUSTICE, BRITISH FISHERIES MINISTER, ANNOUNCES THAT ELECTRIC FISHING WILL BE PROHIBITED AFTER BREXIT
This prohibition will take effect after Brexit in British waters and apply only to foreign vessels. The three English trawlers equipped with electrodes will continue to practice electric fishing. Unfortunately, this statement is not officially binding because the amendment proposed by the British MP Luke Pollard was not added to the Fisheries Bill.
> See the debate of the Fisheries Committee of the British Parliament on December 13, 2018
DECEMBER 18, 2018: QUERY BY ECOLOGY MINISTER FRANÇOIS RUFFIN TO FRENCH MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD DIDIER GUILLAUME
François Ruffin writes “on the inaction of France in obtaining a ban on electric fishing” and asks why the government is abandoning its commitments and those of the French National Assembly which voted a resolution in March 2018 to request the total ban of this destructive technique.
DECEMBER 20, 2018: GILLNETTERS WRITE TO FRENCH MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD DIDIER GUILLAUME
Faced by the silence of the French President of the Republic and the lack of concrete actions on the part of the French government, French gillnetters ask Minister Didier Guillaume for an appointment to discuss the urgency of the situation and to ban electric fishing.
Notre demande de RV au président @EmmanuelMacron a échoué. Nous demandons au Ministre @dguillaume26 de nous accorder une entrevue afin qu'il comprenne l'état d'urgence des fileyeurs face à la #PêcheElectrique. Si la France ne convainc pas le Conseil, c'est notre arrêt de mort. pic.twitter.com/nvNiRrNh3v
— Fileyeurs Hauts-de-France (@fileyeurs) December 20, 2018
7 January 2019 : Interview of Claire Nouvian by François Ruffin
François Ruffin releases an interview of Claire Nouvian, published by Fakir. She talks, among other things, about her fight against deep water trawling and electric fishing.
9 January 2019 : Publication of a press release by Italian MEP Rosa d’Amato
The Italian MEP Rosa d’Amato claims once more her opposition to electric fishing and her will to ban this destructive method. She concludes: “We count on European democracy and will continue to fight for the respect of the European laws and the precautionary principle”
21 January 2019 : European fishers meet at Boulogne-sur-Mer
The social and ecological urgency is such that small-scale fishers met with their British, Italian, Belgian and Spanish counterparts at the Boulogne-sur-Mer fish market for a press conference organised jointly with BLOOM. Fishers call the European institutions to adopt immediately a compromise proposal taking into account their problems, with a very limited “transition period” for Dutch fishers, before a full ban on electric fishing everywhere in Europe.
> Lire notre communiqué
Find here the different interventions:
Paul Lines, british fisher
Ken Kawahara, secretary general of the Small-Scale Platform (Plateforme de la Petite Pêche)
Sandrine Thomas, female fisher from Royan
21 January 2019 : BLOOM launches iPolitics, a platform to engage politicians
BLOOM calls citizens to exert their daily power of control on decision makers, in particular the European Commission, and invents a new kind of tool: #iPolitics, which allows to ask the negociators working in the shadows of the institutions for accounts, day after day.
> Engage your elected politicians: https://stopelectricfishing.org/action
22 January 2019 : BLOOM and a delegation of French, Italian, Spanish and British fishers travel to Brussels
On the day following our press conference, BLOOM and the fishers met MEPs of different nationalities, in particular the Rapporteur of the Regulation, the Spanish Gabriel Mato. He continued to support the idea of electric fishing for another 3 years. Such a delay is unacceptable for small-scale fishers.
28 Janvier 2019 : The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) decides not to open an investigation
Despite the irrefutable evidence of the illegal use of public funds, the OLAF decides not to open an investigation. This decision was not communicated to the 23 plaintiffs (NGOs and small scale fishing organisations). The Dutch press disclosed this information on 18 January 2019.
An investigation by BLOOM revealed that the person in charge of the investigations on the structural European funds at the OLAF, Ernesto Bianchi, was Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) — ie the service at the European Commission in charge of the questions relating to fisheries — between 2011 and 2015. This is precisely at the moment when the European Commission was oganising the major expansion of electric fishing in Europe!
> Read our press release
1 Februrary 2019 : The European Commission recognises the illegality of the licences granted to electric fishing
Almost one year and a half after our first complaint filed against the Netherlands on 2 October 2017 for illegal licences for electric fishing, the head of fisheries at the Commission finally agrees with BLOOM and anounces its intention to open a “formal infringement procedure against the Netherlands” for not respecting the law of the European Commission. BLOOM had revealed that the Netherlands had illegaly granted 70 derogations (out of a total of 84) to Dutch trawlers to fish with electricity in the southern part of the the North Sea. The answer of the Commission comes after BLOOM called on the European Ombudsman on 6 November 2018 for misadministration of the European Commission. The defendant of European Union rights, Emily O’Reilly, had given the Commision the 31 January deadline to reply to BLOOM’s complaint.
> Read the response of the European Commission
4 February 2019 : BLOOM writes to the European Commissioners and to the OLAF
BLOOM sends a fierce letter to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to challenge the shocking conclusion of their pre-investigation that was made following BLOOM’s complaint for suspiscion of fraud.
> Read BLOOM’s letter to OLAF
BLOOM urges the 27 Commissioners to confirm without delay the request to open a judiciary procedure against the Netherlands. A specific letter is addressed to the Commissioner in charge of fisheries, Karmenu Vella, to ask him to conclude immediately the Trilogue negociations and support the total and final ban on electric fishing by 31 July 2019.
> Read the letter sent to the European Commissioners
> Read our press release
4 February 2019 : Peter van Dalen calls the procedure scandalous
The MEP, fervent defender of electric fishing, publishes a release in which he calls the procedure scandalous. He hopes that the European Commissioner Frans Timmermans will fight so that no infringement procedure will be launched against the Netherlands.
6 February 2019 : A Dutch MEP accuses BLOOM of lying
As a response to the reply sent to BLOOM by the European Commission, the MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik (European’s People’s Party group) accuses BLOOM of lying. According to her, the derogations are perfectly legal, despite all the evidence in our possession.
.@AnnieSchreijer don't use your parliamentarian immunity to insult groups that work against your own shameful interests. Letter from @EU_MARE is available on our website: https://t.co/bk8Geplu8y. https://t.co/0QnVqISKJj
— BLOOM Association (@Bloom_FR) February 6, 2019
12 February 2019: Dutch industrial fishers protest against a possible ban in The Hague
Fisheries Minister Carola Schouten is present and supports the protest by Dutch fishers against a possible ban on electric fishing.
Grote opkomst van #pulsvissers bij de Tweede Kamer in Den Haag. Met zijn allen strijden voor #pulsvisserij. Pulsvisserij is een duurzame en innovatieve techniek die niet verloren mag gaan door emotionele waanbeelden. pic.twitter.com/pfcGGxPaLg
— NED■VISSERSBOND (@Vissersbond) February 12, 2019
12 February 2019: Dutch press announces that the College of Commissioners will not initiate a formal infringement procedure against the Netherlands
The Dutch press publishes an article mentioning that the College of Commissioners had decided not to open any infringement procedure against the Netherlands regarding the illegally-granted derogations to practice electric fishing. BLOOM was not informed of this decision by the competent authorities, while industrial lobbies hastened to announce that BLOOM was manipulating the opinion and lying. This announcement eventually proved to be a hoax.
The EC will not start a procedure against the Netherlands for illegal procedures. From this it can be concluded that the Dutch government not made mistakes when granting #puls. This proves again @Bloom_FR is manulipative and lying. Take that into account in the Trilogue tomorrow!
— Juriean Brands (@Dukkers) February 12, 2019
13 February 2019: Victory! Electric fishing will be banned from July 1, 2021
The verdict falls around 10pm after 5 hours of negotiations between the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission: electric fishing will be banned from July 1, 2021. It is an amazing victory for BLOOM and our coalition but which will come too late in view of the economic situation of the artisanal fishers in the North Sea.
Until then, trawlers already equipped with electricity will be able to continue using the derogations provided to them from 2007 onward, that is to say within the limit of 5% of the Member States’ fishing trawler fleets (i.e. 14 max. for the Netherlands). No new exemptions may be granted. Moreover, the political agreement that was reached also makes it clear that scientific research must be strictly supervised with a limited number of boats (six, which is too many) and validated by the scientific body of the European Commission (the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries).
Read our press release
13 February 2019: Dutch MP Annie Schreijer thanks rapporteur Mato and Commissioner Vella
MEP Annie Schreijer does not fail to thank Commissioner Vella and rapporteur Gabriel Mato for helping delay the total ban on electric fishing!
Dank aan EU-commissaris @KarmenuVella (Visserij), onderhandelaar @GabrielMatoA namens t Europarlement en anderen die vanavond een gepland totaalverbod toch wisten om te buigen tot enkele mogelijkheden voor de milieuvriendelijke #pulsvissers. pic.twitter.com/gMLtQ9jEHe
— Annie Schreijer-Pierik (@AnnieSchreijer) February 13, 2019
7 March 2019: The Fisheries Committee of the Parliament validates the Trialogue agreement
The Trilogue agreement on the Technical Measures Regulation — which includes the ban on electric fishing as of the end of June 2021 — was adopted by 21 votes against 2 by the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament.
9th March 2019 :
Philippe Cury, a researcher at the IRD, published an article in The Conversation explaining that the ban on electric fishing is “a decisive step towards more sustainable practices”. He explains that the creation of the trawl in 1376 had caused strong opposition from the outset from trap fishermen.
22th March 2019 : French law proposal to ban electric fishing in French territorial waters
The French MPs want to prohibit trawlers engaged in electric fishing from entering French territorial waters as soon as the “Technical Measures” regulation comes into force, by including this prohibition in the rural and maritime code. This bill, carried by deputy Erwan Balanant (Modem), is co-signed by 125 deputies from all political groups.
23th March 2019 : Dutch Minister announces extension of illegal licences
Fisheries Minister Carola Schouten has taken the initiative to extend the 42 illegal ‘electric fishing’ licences until 1 June 2019, although these expired in February 2019. It would appear that the Netherlands has not requested the authorization from the European Commission, as Carola Schouten states in her letter to electric trawler fishermen: “As the new regulation containing the ban on electric fishing has not yet been formally adopted, I have decided, in anticipation of the vote in the European Parliament, to extend all licences expiring before 1 June until 31 May 2019”.
27th March 2019 : BLOOM publishes a scientific article in the journal marine policy
A new study by BLOOM has just been published in the international and peer-reviewed scientific journal Marine Policy concerning the illegal public financing by Dutch authorities of electric fishing in the North Sea. This study is the scientific validation of the extent of the financial scandal surrounding the development of this destructive fishing method, a scandal that we revealed on 6 November 2018. Indeed, while the European Commission finally acknowledged on 4 February 2019 that the majority of the Dutch derogations were illegal and requested the opening of a formal infringement procedure, we demonstrated that at least 21.5 million euros of public subsidies were allocated by the Netherlands since 2007 to support, legitimize and develop electric fishing, despite the prohibition of this fishing method in Europe since 1998. The Dutch State fraudulently granted these subsidies and was, moreover, the only country to not openly publish the European public aides allocated to its fleets.
> Read our scientific publication 
> Read our article
27th March 2019 : The Dutch electric trawler which had used too small a mesh size fined only 3000 euros
The ARM-14 arrested in Dunkirk on 13 March 2018 was sentenced to a fine of only 3,000 euros, of which 2,000 euros were suspended. This sentence is very light in relation to the scale of the offence: this vessel was carrying 200 kg of undersized soles on board for sale.
1rst April 2019 : Letter to the Commission about the licence extension announced by Schouten
BLOOM sent a letter to the Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, João Aguiar Machado, informing him of the decision taken by the Netherlands to extend the illegal licences until 1 June. We also ask the Commission for transparency on the licences granted, probity and reactivity in the handling of the infringement procedure against the Netherlands.
> Read our article
15th April 2019 : 3 Dutch Meps try again to avoid a ban on electric fishing
While the plenary vote scheduled for 16 April is due to take place on the whole “Technical Measures” regulation, MEPs Peter van Dalen, Annie Schreijer and Jan huitema are calling for a separate vote on Annex V to remove the ban on electric fishing. They wish to return to the Commission’s proposal which is an unrestricted use of electric fishing in the North Sea. This proposal requires the agreement of 38 MEPs.
16th April 2019 : The parliament ratifies the trialogue agreement
« All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. » (Arthur Schopenhauer)
571 against 60: with an overwhelming majority, the European Parliament adopted on 16 April the Trilogue agreement concluded on 13 February 2019 on the ‘Technical Measures’ Regulation, which includes electric fishing. The prohibition of this destructive method will become effective from 1 July 2021.
Between the publication of the regulation in the Official Journal in a few weeks and 1 July 2021, the number of trawlers authorized to conduct electric fishing will be drastically reduced from 84 to around a dozen Dutch trawlers. Furthermore, each Member State may also decide to prohibit electric fishing in its 12-nautical-mile coastal strip, i.e. 22.2 km.
> Read our article
17th April 2019 : The Commission replis to our letter of 1 April
The day after the plenary vote, the European Commission replied to our letter informing us that it would not disclose the list and date of equipment of trawlers that benefit from a derogation to practice electric fishing. It concludes its letter by specifying that the number of licences will be considerably reduced to a maximum of 5% of the beam trawler fleet before a complete ban from 1 July 2021.
18th April 2019 : The Dutch Minister decides to extend the licences to carry out research until 31 December 2019
While the new regulation on “Technical Measures” stipulates that 5% of the beam trawler fleet will be able to continue electric fishing, Fisheries Minister Carola Schouten has announced that she will not comply with the rules. She has decided to extend the derogations for 21 “research” vessels until 31 December 2019 and 22 vessels until 30 June 2021.
The Minister also decided to take the ban on electric fishing to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
6th May 2019 : BLOOM writes to the European Commission to notify it of the illegal decision of the Netherlands
BLOOM once again calls on the European Commission to take action against the Netherlands, which has decided to unilaterally extend electric fishing licences until December 2019.
> Read the letter addressed to the European Commission
9th May 2019 : Gillnetters and BLOOM file a complaint with the High Court of Dunkirk for illegal electric fishing in French Waters
‘Electric fishing’ continues to be a hot topic. On 9 May 2019, BLOOM and 45 professional fishers from Northern France filed a complaint with the Regional Court of Dunkirk. The plaintiffs are represented by Ms. Maud Touitou and Mr. Sébastien Mabile of law firm ‘Seattle Avocats’. Several cases of electric fishing have been documented in French territorial waters, i.e. a 22km-wide coastal strip (12 nautical miles). If these vessels operated under an illegal license, i.e. exceeding the legal threshold of 5% of the Dutch beam trawl fleet — as is the case for 70 of the 84 derogations — this would be an alleged infringement.
> Read our press release
10th May 2019 : The National Assembly unanimously votes to ban electric fishing in the French Coastal strip
The bill carried by deputy Erwan Balanant (Modem) and co-signed by more than 150 deputies from all political parties was debated and voted unanimously in the National Assembly.
17th May 2019 : Belgium announces that it will ban electric fishing in its coastal strip
Minister Koen Van den Heuvel announced that he has started proceedings to ban electric fishing in the 12-mile wide Belgian coastal strip. This initiative is led by Flemish MP Tom Vandendelaere under the impetus of Belgian fishermen.
24th May 2019 : The European Commissioner answers a parliamentary question on the number of boats authorized as soon as the regulation is implemented
Belgian Member of Parliament Tom Vandenkendelaere had asked how many trawlers will be able to continue electric fishing during the transition period. Indeed, lobbies had spread the rumour of 42 vessels. Commissioner Vella explained that “During the transitional period ending on 30 June 2021, a maximum of 5% of the beam trawler fleet per Member State may use these gears under the specific conditions laid down in the technical measures regulation. ». However, it does not specify the number of licences, but our calculations indicate that the Netherlands should not exceed 14 vessels.
1rst June 2019 : 42 electric fishing licences expire
42 licences corresponding to the electric fishing “pilot project” have become obsolete. This represents half of the entire fleet of trawlers equipped with electrodes (84 vessels in circulation at the beginning of 2019).
> Read our article
6th June 2019 : Electric trawl fishermen ask for a new extension
19 fishing companies are applying to the Rotterdam court for an extension of their licences until mid-July to carry out electrofishing in the name of a “transition period”. These licences had already expired and were shamefully extended until 1 June 2019 by Minister Schouten.
6th June 2019 : Bill for a ban on electric fishing in the 12-Mile coastal strip is tabled in the senate
This bill was voted unanimously in the National Assembly on 10 May 2019 and aims to ban electric fishing for all vessels in the 12-mile (approximately 22 km) wide French coastal strip. It has been submitted to the Senate for first reading.
7th June 2019 : Request for extension of licences rejected
The Rotterdam court rejects the application for extension of ‘electric fishing’ licences by 19 Dutch fishing companies. No appeal is therefore possible, 42 licences are indeed obsolete since 1 June 2019!
13th June 2019 : The Council approves the “technical measures” regulation banning electric fishing on 1rst July 2021
This is the last step before the regulation is published in the Official Journal. It will enter into force in the coming weeks. True to its position, the Netherlands voted against the new regulation.
26h June 2019 : A Dutch electric trawler fishes in French territorial waters
Le chalutier néerlandais ARM25 pratique EN CE MOMENT la #PêcheElectrique dans les eaux françaises! Où en est la procédure pour une interdiction anticipée dans nos 12 milles nautiques? Nous devons mettre fin à l'arrogance de ces industriels qui détruisent les écosystèmes marins. pic.twitter.com/wYb63ZoSpr
— BLOOM Association (@Bloom_FR) June 26, 2019
27th June 2019 : Lack of knowledge about electric trawlers in French waters
Questioned by Jean-Jacques Bourdin, Minister Didier Guillaume stated that he was not aware that an electric trawler was fishing in French waters.
.@dguillaume26 invité de @JJBourdin_RMC pas au courant des pb générés par bateaux néerlandais ds les eaux FR. Pourtant une prop. de loi de @erwanbalanant votée par @AssembleeNat, en lecture au @Senat doit interdire #PêcheElectrique ds nos 12 milles. Ignorance ou mauvaise foi ? pic.twitter.com/29Vyc7yTTn
— BLOOM Association (@Bloom_FR) June 27, 2019
2 July 2019 :
The European Commission replied to our letter of 6 May 2019 indicating that “during the transitional period ending on 30 June 2021, no more than 5% of the beam trawler fleet of each Member State will be able to use this gear under the conditions specified in the Technical Measures Regulation. “She did not answer our question concerning the extension of the derogations decided unilaterally by the Dutch Minister.
6th July 2019 : Broadcast of the documentary “Watt The Fish” on Ushuaïa TV
This 52-minute documentary, directed by Dorian Hays and Emerick Missud, traces the struggle of BLOOM and artisanal fishermen for the ban on electric fishing. It takes us through the corridors of the European Parliament and on board fishing vessels.
25th July 2019 : Publication of the ‘technical measures’ regulation in the official journal
Regulation (EU) 2019/1241 is published in the Official Journal and will enter into force 20 days later.
14th August 2019 : Entry into force of the ‘technical measures’ regulation
The ban on electric fishing will be effective from 1 July 2021. During the transitional period, only 5% of each Member State’s beam trawler fleet will be allowed to continue electric fishing. This corresponds to around 15 Dutch vessels. The derogations issued to carry out “scientific research” will expire. However, Dutch Minister Carola Schouten had announced her refusal to comply with the regulations by granting these vessels the right to carry out electric fishing until 31 December 2019.
14th August 2019 : Prefectorial decree banning electric fishing in French territorial waters
According to Annex V of Regulation (EU) 2019/1241 , “Member States may take non-discriminatory measures to limit or prohibit the use of trawl gear associated with electric pulse current. “France is the first Member State to take this provision by a prefectoral decree.
21st August 2019 : Ministerial decree banning electric fishing in Belgian territorial waters
After France, Belgium prohibits access to electric trawlers in territorial waters by a ministerial order. Flemish Minister Koen Van den Heuvel officially announces this in Nieuwpoort in the presence of professional and recreational fishermen who welcome the news with enthusiasm.
28st August 2019 : Danish fishermen mobilise against Dutch beam trawlers.
Some electric trawlers have converted to traditional trawling and have moved their fishing effort further north, towards the Danish coast. Faced with the invasion of beam trawlers, local artisanal fishermen decided to occupy the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand their expulsion. They finally obtained the setting up of a catch control point.
18th September 2019 : BLOOM lodges a third complaint agains the Netherlands with the European Commission
For the third time, BLOOM has filed a complaint to the European Commission against the Netherlands on 18 September 2019. In line with its behaviour over the past ten years, this Member State continues to ignore European laws. Despite the new Regulation (EU) 2019/1241 on “Technical Measures”, which entered into force on 14 August 2019 and enacts the phasing out of electric fishing, the Netherlands have yet again issued too many derogations to practice this destructive fishing method until it becomes fully banned on 1 July 2021.
During the transitional period from the entry into force of the Regulation on 14 August 2019 to the full and definitive ban on electric fishing on 1 July 2021, a maximum of 5% of the beam trawlers’ fleet of each Member State can be authorised to conduct electric fishing. The Netherlands has publicly acknowledged that it will breach this legal requirement in two ways:
- The legal 5%-limit corresponds to a maximum of 15 vessels, not 22 as stated by the Dutch Minister for Fisheries, Carola Schouten;
- In addition, Ms Schouten has also announced that she will allow 20 additional vessels to continue their commercial activities under the guise of ‘scientific research’ until 31 December 2019, even though she has publicly acknowledged in March 2018 that this argument was fallacious.
> Read our article
24th September 2019 : Opening of a EU-Pilot Procedure
The European Commission informs BLOOM that our complaint of 18 September 2019 has been forwarded to EU-Pilot.
24th September 2019 : Written question concerning the exceeding of the number of licences kept to practice electric fishing
MEP Eric Andrieu has written to the European Commission asking “what does the Commission intend to do concretely to oblige the Netherlands to apply the European regulation on electric fishing?”
9th October 2019 : The Netherlands announce that it has referred the matter to the court of justice of the European Union
It’s a new bluff. Minister Carola Schouten announces that she has referred the ban on electric fishing to the Court of Justice of the European Union in order to have it annulled. According to her, the European Parliament and the Council of the Union have not followed the best scientific advice available.
> Read our article
14th October 2019 : Claire Nouvian is the guest of ‘La Terre au carré’ on France Inter
Claire Nouvian explains the many frauds committed by the Netherlands in the electrofishing dossier
> Listen to the show again
16th October 2019 : Publication of a CEFAS study on electric fishing
The study — carried out by CEFAS — was eagerly awaited by BLOOM and many small-scale fishers around the North Sea, as this study is the first to look at the impact of electric fishing in the natural environment, far from the targeted and weak studies produced by Dutch researchers… and funded by Dutch industrials! The study was conducted in two comparable areas off the South of England, one regularly fished by electric trawlers and the other not. Results are clear, as the electrified area has a much lower species diversity and abundance. Among others:
- Species diversity is 21-57% lower in the area where electric fishing is practiced compared to the area that is preserved from this destructive fishing technique;
- There are 2.6 times fewer soles — the species targeted by electric trawlers — in their area of activity.
> Read our article
7th November 2019 : Publication of an information note on the Netherlands’ recours to the EU Court of Justice
The Netherlands sought the annulment of Annex V, Part D, points 1 to 5 of EU Regulation (EU) 2019/1241 which prohibits electric fishing.
25th November 2019 : Reply to the written question by Eric Andrieu
“The Commission is currently evaluating the responses received. Depending on the results of this evaluation, it will consider the necessary measures to enforce the Regulation.” Once again, the answer to the question “what does the Commission intend to do concretely to oblige the Netherlands to apply the European regulation on electrofishing” is not adequate.
1st January 2020 : 20 Derogations allowing electric fishing have expired
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.Adding to a first round of 42 exemptions that were withdrawn on the 1st of June 2019  , 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.
> Read our article
20 March 2020 : Last ultimatum to the European Commission regarding complaints against The Netherlands
BLOOM calls on the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius to eventually take strong measures against the Netherlands, which continues to trample regulations on electric fishing in the greatest indifference of European institutions.
> READ OUR LETTER TO VIRGINIJUS SINKEVIČIUS
7 April 2020 : The European Commission responds to our ultimatum in a totally unsatisfactory way
BLOOM receives another scandalous response. The letter concludes that “the Commission is not in a position to provide you with a precise state of play, nor to make any statement concerning compliance with the relevant Community provisions”.
15th April 2020 : A new German trawler is equipped to practice electric fishing
The Dutch press mentions that a new German trawler, under Dutch capital, has been equipped to practice electric fishing. However, the regulation is clear: no derogation can be granted during the transitional period, i.e., until June 30, 2021, when electric fishing will be totally and definitively prohibited.
1st May 2020 : Publication of the annual report of the WGELECTRA electric fishing working group
This annual report reviews the research carried out on electric fishing. It is the researchers working in this field who evaluate their own research. Unsurprisingly, it is very favorable to electric fishing.
20th May 2020 : ECMC publishes a special advisory on electric fishing
Bis repetita. As in 2018, advocates of electrofishing use the timely publication of a “Special Advice” from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to gesticulate alleged scientific data and thus request the cancellation of the regulation prohibiting this destructive fishing method. As in 2018, this is not the case: “science” has not proven the harmlessness of this fishing method.
> Read BLOOM’s reaction
20th May 2020 : Written question from Dutch MEPs to the European Commission
Peter van Dalen, Jan Huitema, Bert-Jan Ruissen and Annie Schreijer-Pierik asked the European Commission when an amendment to the “Technical Measures” regulation that lifts the ban on electric fishing will be proposed.
26th May 2020 : Dutch deputies call for the cancellation of the ban on electric fishing
Dutch MEPs Annie Schreijer and Peter Van Dalen will lobby Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius to reopen the debate on electric fishing.
30th May 2020 : The electric fishing lobbies are very active again
A lobbyist tweeters her meeting with members of the European Commission and with Pierre Kareleskind, MEP and President of the PECH Commission. She exposes the scandalous ICES Opinion on electric fishing. This tweet has since been deleted.
2nd June 2020 : A Belgian scientist criticizes the special opinion of the ECMC
Hans Polet, a very prolix researcher on electric fishing at the ILVO, has greatly nuanced the words of the defenders of electric fishing following the ICES publication: “The ILVO has clearly demonstrated that the Belgian 12 nautical mile zone has been fished in an inconsiderate manner by Dutch electric trawlers. Their practices have clearly had a negative impact on the fish stocks off the Belgian coast. In addition, the complaints of small Belgian, French and English fishermen, who suffered from the unfair competition of electric fishing”.
The press release remained online for a few hours before being deleted but BLOOM made a copy of the page.
5th June 2020 : BLOOM against seizes the European Mediator
Given the Netherlands’ repeated violations of EU law regarding electric fishing and given the European Commission’s failure to respond to our complaints and address this severe issue, BLOOM has once again called on the European Ombudsman and asks that sanctions finally be imposed on this factious Member State.
> Read our article
8th June 2020 : The lobbies’ agitation over electric fishing continues
One of the scientists, an advocate of electric fishing, published an article highlighting the advantages of the technology, with a focus on electric fishing. He claims that BLOOM conducted a controversial campaign.
23th June 2020 : Lobbies mobilized to cancel the ban on electric fishing
A press article announces that the Netherlands will try to have the ban on electric fishing revised at the end of 2020. Indeed, since 2018, the Netherlands has suddenly started to sponsor scientific research for this purpose.
14th July 2020 : The European ombudsman opens an investigation into the failures of the European Commission
The Ombudsman announced that she had decided to open an inquiry and asked the European Commission “for an explanation of the measures taken after her letter of 1 February 2019, namely whether the Commission has taken the decision to open infringement proceedings in this case […] and, if not, why not. “It also “invited the Commission to provide an update on the state of play of [the] infringement complaint of 18 September 2019. »
20h July 2020 : New complain of BLOOM, against Germany
Far from being resolved, the electric fishing case continues to reflect the European Union’s serious dysfunctions. While the new Regulation that came into force in August 2019 formally prohibits the granting of further derogations, Germany — which assumes the Presidency of the Council of the Union since early July — disregarded this point. Furthermore, the European Commission continues to ignore the undeniably illegal number of Dutch vessels engaged in electric fishing. BLOOM has thus once again filed a complaint with the European Commission, this time against Germany, and has, in parallel, obtained an inquiry from the European Ombudsman into the failure of the European Commission to fulfill its role as Guardian of the Treaties. A preposterous process which we hope to see through one day…
> Read our article
30th July 2020 : The European Commission confirms that the Netherlands are in Breach
In the middle of the summer, the European Commission confirms the validity of our complaints and concedes that the Netherlands is indeed in breach of European law. Despite this belated recognition, the Commission signs and persists in misinterpreting the new regulation in an erroneous and abusive manner to allow the Netherlands to keep its seven illegal derogations. By congratulating itself for having “obtained the necessary assurances from this Member State that a system would be implemented shortly, guaranteeing that no more than 15 beam trawlers using pulsed electric current would be allowed to operate simultaneously”, it is performing a dangerous sleight of hand to avoid taking responsibility for its serious shortcomings.
She gives us 4 weeks to respond, otherwise the complaints will be closed.
>Read the letter from the European Commission
26th August 2020 : BLOOM responds to the European Commission
After our referral to the European Ombudsman on 5 June 2020 and the opening of her enquiry on 14 July 2020 into the European Commission’s failure to fulfil its obligations, the European Commission finally acknowledged that the Netherlands had issued an illegal number of derogations to equip its vessels with electric trawls. Did our complaints finally force the Netherlands to comply with the law? Not quite, given that the European Commission, through a mind-boggling mis-interpretation of the regulation in force, still allows the Netherlands to keep almost 50% of illegal derogations; a dangerous precedent!
BLOOM has been wrestling with the European Commission for almost three years, so that it fullfils its role of Guardian of the Treaties.
> Read our answer to DG MARE
> Read our article
2th September 2020 : BLOOM asks France to refer to the European Court of Justice
In order that sanctions be taken against the Netherlands for the use of illegal licenses in the practice of electrofishing, BLOOM requested the French Government to file an action for failure to act against the European Commission before the Court of Justice of the European Union. This request follows the Commission’s chronic inaction in the electric fishing dossier.
4th September 2020 : The German Minister said she wants to reopen the debate on electric fishing
During the Presidency of the Council of the Union, Julia Klöckner, German Minister of Food and Agriculture, used the arguments of the electric fishing lobbies and announced her intention to reopen the debate at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries on September 3, 2020. EELV MEP Caroline Roose raised the issue of Germany’s illegal derogation at the September 3 meeting of the Fisheries Committee. The question also remained unanswered, as the minister skillfully preferred to ignore it.
> Read our article
Sous pression des Pays-Bas qui violent la règlementation depuis 10 ans, la Présidence allemande @EU2020DE pourrait rouvrir le débat sur l'interdiction de #PêcheElectrique ? @JuliaKloeckner, ne couvrez pas cette fraude & ne soyez pas les fossoyeurs de la démocratie.
cc @bmel pic.twitter.com/SYG5dwZv0W
— BLOOM Association (@Bloom_FR) September 7, 2020
15th September 2020 : BLOOM publishes a report with new revelations
In an explosive new report, BLOOM goes one step further in its revelations on the abysmal depth of the Dutch electric fishing fraud. Through the analysis of unpublished data that we had access to thanks to whistleblowers, we were able to determine that the number of Dutch vessels equipped with electric trawls was far greater than the number of derogations officially acknowledged by the Netherlands. We also demonstrated that Germany — supposedly a model pupil — was also engaging in illegal fishing, and that some Dutch vessels were not satisfied to be already outside the legal framework and were fishing in prohibited areas. Faced with the appalling inaction of the European Commission in this matter, BLOOM demands that firm sanctions be taken against the Netherlands and asks France as well as Belgium to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
> Read our new report (+ annexes)
> Read our article
15th September 2020 : BLOOM writes to Belgian Government to warn of fraudulent practice in territorial waters
BLOOM discovered that the trawler TH-10 DIRJKE was fishing illegally with electric trawls in the Belgian 12-mile coastal zone, even though Belgium has banned this practice in its territorial waters. BLOOM demands that firm sanctions be taken against the Netherlands and asks Belgium to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
17th September 2020 : BLOOM launches a platform for citizen engagement
Faced with the silence of the European Commission in spite of the numerous incriminating elements that we have produced against the Netherlands, BLOOM launches a platform of citizen’s interpellation in order to demand that sanctions are finally taken against this bandit country.
> Read our article
7th October 2020 : Ongoing investigation on the electric trawler TH10
The Belgian Ministry has replied, and informs us that an investigation is underway on this vessel, but no details can be disclosed. However, BLOOM appreciates that the Belgian Government is taking this problem of illegal fishing very seriously.
12th October 2020 : BLOOM lodges complaint against the Netherlands and calls on citizens to do the same
BLOOM launches an unprecedented three-day #ComplaintFiled campaign allowing all citizens to file individual complaints to the European Commission to demand enforcement and sanctions against the Dutch government.
>Exercise your citizen power and file a complaint
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15th October 2020 : No response to our complaints despite the date imposed by the European Mediator
While the European Commission should have responded – by 15 October 2020 at the latest as requested by the European Ombudsman – to our previous complaints against the Netherlands for illegal electric fishing, BLOOM has not yet received any response, despite thousands of complaints. BLOOM decides to extend its #ComplaintFiled action.
Over 25,000 citizen complaints have so far been sent to the European Commission to demand sanctions against the Netherlands.
More powerful than a petition, this unprecedented action is a true demonstration of democracy. But BLOOM deplores the utter silence of the European Commission, and thus extends its action until a satisfactory response is obtained.
> Read our article
22th October 2020 : The Dunkirk auction closes for good
The small gillnetters of Dunkirk resisted as long as they could to the Dutch industrial fishery, without getting any financial or moral support from those who were supposed to represent them. Tired of fighting for a non-existent future and without emergency aid, the fishermen decided to permanently close the Dunkirk auction. The cooperative has also been placed in receivership and is expected to close by November 2020.
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29th October 2020 : Commission forwards complaint against Germany to EU Pilot application
Filed on July 20, 2020 against Germany, which granted an electric fishing license when the regulation prohibits it, this complaint was transmitted to the EU Pilot application. Once the file is transferred, it usually takes 10 weeks for the Member State to respond to the Commission, and then 10 weeks for the Commission to evaluate the proposed response.
30th October 2020 : The European Commission acknowledges receipt of the complaint of 12th October
Following the 26,000 complaints filed by citizens, the European Commission informs BLOOM in a letter “to treat these complaints as multiple complaints”. It is possible to follow the evolution of the processing of the complaint on the Commission’s website.
16th November 2020 : Electric fishing again in the debate of the European Parliament’s fisheries Committee
At the initiative of Dutch MEP Peter van Dalen, a representative of ICES presented the Special Notice requested by the Netherlands and published on May 30, 2020. This very oriented question asked ICES to compare the effects of electric fishing with those of beam trawling, a method widely condemned at the global level and considered one of the most destructive. BLOOM also wrote to the MEPs of the PECH and ENVI Committees, as well as to the European Commission.
The ban on electric fishing was so fatal to the Dutch lobby, on the verge of collapsing, that it works tirelessly at the European level to have the ban lifted. The situation, as tedious as it gets, could be comical if not dangerous… The strategy of the Dutch electric fishing lobby — repeating the same lies over and over again — is indeed well known and used. Unfortunately, this strategy has harmful impacts on democracy and the confidence that citizens have in their institutions, as evidenced across the Atlantic.
> Read our article