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Environment lobby applies pressure on pulse fishing

Published by FiskerForum, 13-01-2018 · info@fiskerforum.dk

The anti-pulse trawl lobby peaked this week in Brussels with a campaign ahead of the crucial vote on a new regulation for the conservation of fishery resources that will take place on 16 January 2018. Europêche, which represents European fishing associations, believes that this is the umpteenth attempt to demonise an innovative fishing method.

‘We are confronted with a new offensive orchestrated by the radical environmentalists in a further attempt to discredit a fishing gear, in line with a previous campaign against deep sea bottom trawling,’ said Europêche President Javier Garat.

‘We reiterate that there are no good or bad fishing gears, it all depends on their use. It is frustrating that after so much time and work with scientists to find a way to reduce the impact of fishing gears, when the system is finally developed, some just try to demonise it.’

He said that pulse fishing has been a much debated innovation, widely discussed in Brussels in light of the newly proposed Regulation on conservation of fisheries resources and the protection of marine ecosystems through technical measures.

‘The European fishing industry represented by Europêche defends all fishing methods permitted by Law. We believe that if properly managed, all fishing techniques are sustainable, including pulse fishing. Radical NGOs are trying to sabotage the difficult compromise reached in the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament back in November that represented a democratic, reasonable and sustainable solution,’ he said, commenting that Europêche is urging the European Parliament Plenary to respect this compromise in order to allow innovation and the development of new sustainable fishing techniques which is the sole way the sector can adapt to new legislative scenarios such as the landing obligation.

Currently three Member States have issued licenses allowing this fishery in certain areas of the North Sea. Following years of research and investment, by-catches of non-target species are down by 50% and fuel consumption by 46%, combined with a lighter impact on the sea bed reducing the area swept by 20%. The vessels equipped with this technology are strictly monitored and controlled by the use of black boxes to ensure that the low levels of voltage used do not exceed what is permitted by law.

Europêche argues that pulse fishing could have a valuable role to play in breaking new ground for other innovative technologies, while conceding that there are still some open questions about possible unintended by-effects in the marine environment which are been identified and addressed by the industry together with international scientists in ongoing independent research.

‘Despite these efforts, fraudulent and misleading information about the environmental impact of the pulse has been widely spread by some NGOs with the sole objective to ban particularly this fishing method and generally bottom trawling,’ Javier Garat said.

‘Over the past few years we have witnessed EU legislation vilifying many types of fishing practices, seeing blanket bans as the answer; driftnet ban, deep sea ban or discard ban. Blanket bans are never the answer and have catastrophic consequences for the sector, particularly in the context of the landing obligation which forces EU vessels to be even more efficient and selective. EU legislation must be flexible enough to enable progress towards innovative fishing gears. Fishing practices vary throughout the EU and so regional legislation is key, not EU-wide bans, nor unfair demonisation.’

Source: Europêche

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