On this page, you can find the timeline of our campaign against electric pulse fishing, up until our victory, together!
October 4th, 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 this 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.
February 24th, 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.
June 21st, 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.
October 2nd, 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.
October 2nd, 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 fishers of Northern Europe.
October 9th, 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).
November 27th, 2017: The answer of the Commission can be read here.
Answer given by Mr 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 information, notably in regards the exact number of licenses granted by the Netherlands pursuing to Article 31a of Regulation (EC) No 850/98.
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.”
 Council Regulation (EC) No 850/98 of March 30th, 1998 for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures for the protection of juveniles of marine organisms, OJ L 125, 27.4.1998, p. 1–36
November 2nd, 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!).
November 6th, 2017: small-scale fishers 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.
November 8th, 2017: small-scale fishers of Europe send an open letter to MEPs
The LIFE (Low Impact Fishers of Europe) platform writes to MEPs, asking them not to soften the current framework on electric pulse fishing.
November 8th, 2017: French MP Paul Christophe requests that the French Government clearly position itself against electric fishing
The answer of the French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Travert is weak and ambiguous: “we will not defend electric fishing”
November 14th, 2017: meeting of the shadow reporters at the Parliament
While in Strasbourg for a Plenary session, 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).
November 14th, 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).
November 15th, 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.
November 15th, 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.
November 16th, 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.
November 21st, 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: Yannick Jadot (Greens, France), Anja Hazekamp (GUE, Netherlands), Karima Delli (Greens, France), Marco Affronte (Greens, Italy), Pascal Durand (Greens, France) and Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE, France). Thanks to our champions for supporting our campaign against electric pulse fishing, and thanks to all of you who signed the petition!
December 12th, 2017: European petition to stop Electric Pulse 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!
December 13th, 2017: French MP Adrien Quatennens asks the government a question
followed by a tweet from Ugo Bernalicis, deputy of the group « France Insoumise »
December 13th, 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 debunks BLOOM’s arguments to underline only the “environmental benefits” of this fishing technique. Dutch lobbies give BLOOM ample acknowledgment to our extremely famous efficacy!
December 14th, 2017: The Dutch government lobbies on behalf… of lobbies!
The Dutch embassy in Paris defends electric fishing in a press release and duplicates 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.
December 18th, 2017: Press Release from the French Socialist Party
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.
Dec. 19 2017: French MEP Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL) calls for a “ban on barbaric electric fishing in Europe”
Dec. 20 2017: the Parliament announces that the Plenary vote will occur on 16 January 2018
The vote will take place on January 16th, 2018 in Strasbourg, which is still too soon after the Christmas recess for the European Parliament to seriously consider the issue.
Dec. 21 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).
December 26th, 2017: Jean-Luc Mélenchon sends a 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.
January 8th, 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
BLOOM, End Ecocide on Earth, the Irish Wildlife Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST), the Black Fish, Our Fish, Notre Affaire à Tous, Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE), Gillnet Fishers of the North of France, Thanet Fishermen, Queenbourgh Fishermen, Leigh and Southend Fishermen, Mersea Island Fishermen, Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance, Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation (IIMRO), Plateforme Petite Pêche Artisanale Française, Fishermen United.
[i] Electric fishing has been banned in Europe since 1998 by Article 31 of Council regulation (EC) No 850/98.
[ii] On 11 March 2016, the European Commission released its legislative proposal to reform the Technical Measures Regulation (COM(2016) 134 final).
January 9th, 2018: Spanish artisanal 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 artisanal fishery and gathers associations of artisanal fishermen.
January 10th, 2018: the European Parliament is 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.
January 10th, 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 “.
January 10th, 2018: Top European chefs take electric pulse fishing off the menu
January 13th, 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, artisanal fishers are going bankrupt.
Read our advocacy document here.
January 14th 2018: Rebuttal to the 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 January 16 2018, Dutch lobbies are desperately trying to counter our well-referenced arguments.
To this end, VisNed’s electric fishing lobby has prepared an advocacy document, which has been distributed to MEPs. Here, we refute one by one the 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.
January 16th, 2018: BLOOM’s petition reaches 105,000 signatures
January 16th, 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”.
JANUARY 17th 2018: CARREFOUR ANNOUNCES THAT IT NO LONGER SELLS PRODUCTS FROM ELECTRICAL FISHING.
“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.
JANUARY 17th 2018: BIOCOOP SUPPORTS THE PROHIBITION OF ELECTRIC FISHING IN EUROPE AND CONGRATULATES BLOOM ON ITS COMMITMENT.
JANUARY 21st 2018: CREATION OF A FALSE TWITTER ACCOUNT “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.
JANUARY 24th 2018: REVELATIONS CONCERNING ILLEGAL LICENSES FOR PRACTICING ELECTRICAL FISHING
JANUARY 25th 2018: BLOCKING OF THE PORT OF CALAIS BY THE GILLNETTERS OF HAUTS-DE-FRANCE
Artisanal 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.
JANUARY 25th 2018: 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.
JANUARY 26th 2018: GILLNETTERS RECEIVED IN 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.
JANUARY 26th, 2018: AFTER THE 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 artisanal fishermen who proclaim to be fishing in a “cemetery” after the electric trawls pass.
JANUARY 27th 2018: A 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.”
JANUARY 29th 2018: THE GOVERNMENT OF THE NETHERLANDS ORGANIZES ITSELF TO AVOID THE 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.
FEBRUARY 1st 2018: BLUE MARINE FOUNDATION SUPPORTS BLOOM CAMPAIGN
Blue Marine Foundation decides to campaign in the UK for the ban on electric fishing.
FEBRUARY 6th 2018: DECLARATIONS OF FRENCH MINISTER LACK COMMITMENT
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.
FEBRUARY 8th 2018: ADOPTION OF THE MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION IN THE EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
In the European Affairs Committee, French MEPs 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.”
FEBRUARY 20th 2018: THE NETHERLANDS DEPLOY A TASK FORCE
Former Dutch fisheries minister Cees Veerman is named “ambassador” for electric fishing. Their mission is to lobby in order to fight the ban and convince member states to continue electric fishing.
FEBRUARY 21st 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 MEPs’ 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