BLOOM requests details on ICES advisory process

BLOOM currently runs a campaign with other NGOs and artisanal fishermen to prohibit electric fishing in Europe. We undertake a rigorous scientific watch to gather all knowledge on the impacts of electric currents on marine life and fishing activities. We always welcome with great interest scientific advice and reviews produced by a renowned independent scientific institution such as ICES. We have thus been shocked by the conclusions and political use of a recent ICES scientific advice answering a special request by the Netherlands on a “comparison of the ecological and environmental effects of pulse trawls and traditional beam trawls when exploiting the North Sea sole TAC“.[1]

This special request by the Netherlands has been timed and framed to enable scientific legitimization of a destructive fishing gear, while Trilogue negotiations determining its future are underway at the European level. This advice now being part of the European political debate, we believe complete transparency is needed on the advisory process that led to its production. Several elements remain unclear:

  • When did the Netherlands formulate their special request for an ICES scientific advice?
  • Who was present at the Advice Drafting Group organized at the ICES headquarters? Is a report of this meeting available to better understand the drafting process?
  • Who was present during ACOM meeting and is a report of this meeting available?
Read our information request addressed to ICES

As detailed in the ICES advice basis,[2] “ICES advisory approach is based on an ecosystem approach, within a precautionary approach to management. […] This implies that as information becomes increasingly limited and/or less certain, ICES advice on management will be more conservative with respect to possible impact on the marine ecosystem.” In fact, your “aim is to address the request while ensuring that the advice is consistent with maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.” Far from being precautious, the ICES advice conclusion is that “there are fewer ecological and environmental effects of using pulse trawls than traditional beam trawls when exploiting the total allowable catch (TAC) of North Sea sole.” This conclusion is highly contentious (see our in-depth analysis of the ICES advice), and BLOOM formally requests ICES to reconsider its advice in view of the principles it should be based on. ICES cooperation in this political maneuver is of deep concern, since it jeopardizes the scientific credibility of the advisory process.




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