The Government and DEFRA announced through Fisheries Minister George Eustice that the United Kingdom will enact a complete ban on the use of Electric Pulse fishing in British waters post-Brexit in the Fisheries Bill currently passing through Parliament.

This comes after a concerted campaign by fishing industry representatives and campaigners to see what they say is an “abhorrent” method banned.

Electric pulse fishing uses electrical pulses similar to a taser to shock fish off of the seabed and into the trawl following behind the electrodes at the mouth of the trawl net. It has been shown to cause severe spasms to the point of causing spinal fractures in Cod.

Nothing is known about the effect on the wider marine environment and smaller marine life and organisms crucial to the wider environment.

The EU has a ban on the use of electricity in fishing operations. However, ten years ago the EU Commission allowed a derogation from this ban under the auspices of a trial in the southern North Sea.

This was despite international scientists and the EU’s own scientific advice saying not to allow the method to be deployed.

The method was developed and deployed predominantly by the Dutch fishing industry. What began as a trial has now extended to cover 100 boats and has gone on for 10 years.

Dutch fishermen candidly admitting it is now a commercial fishery masquerading under the auspices of a trial.

Fishermen around the southern North Sea have bitterly complained that the areas where pulse fishing has been deployed have seen severe degradation of commercial stocks and the wider marine environment.

A survey recently conducted off the Kent coast by CEFAS under orders of the fisheries minister George Eustice, left fishermen appalled at the difference seen in areas Electric pulsed fished and those not – describing pulsed areas as “an ecological desert” – the trial results are to be published in the beginning of next year.

‘Fishing for Leave’,  who have extensively striven to publicly highlight the issue and see it banned, along with numerous other fishermen’s organisations and green groups, were elated by the news.

Aaron Brown. head of FFL said:

“We are delighted with this news and shows what can be done to better husband our fishing, waters and marine environment by taking back control.

It comes after a lot of hard yards, not only in raising publicity and outrage nationally, but in endless lobbying in Parliament. To see the pressure exerted to get this repulsive, abhorrent method deployed by the Dutch banned – who seem keen not only to rape 60% of our fish stocks but our marine environment and ecosystem too.

Massive credit should also go to Thanet Fishermen’s Association, East Anglia Fishermen’s alliance and the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association. Big credit must go to Bloom eNGO who worked tirelessly for the EU parliament to vote to ask the Commission to overturn the derogation to allow the use of this method.

All have worked tirelessly and together – some for years when government turned a blind eye to this abhorrence by our EU ‘partners’.

That is why we were disappointed and perplexed why a government, and Environment Secretary desperate to signal the virtue of his environmental credentials, didn’t announce such a ban in the Fisheries White Paper or Bill.

However, we very much welcome the announcement by Mr Eustice and give him credit for listening, initiating surveys and for moving with a rising tide of public opinion and cross party condemnation and support to see this banned. Credit must go to East Anglia MP Peter Lowestoft for tabling amendments and seeking support for such a ban along with the shadow labour Defra team who supported a ban too.

This will be a huge saviour for the marine environment our fishermen depend upon to see their industry and heritage continue for generations to come. It will see a huge amount of foreign fishing pressure removed from British waters allowing local fishermen and communities to thrive again.

We now expect this to go through legally watertight and will watch like a hawk so it is not diluted or backslid from – as this government are now well practiced at – to appease big EU owned but UK registered Dutch “Flagship” interests which dominate some fishing organisations and POs in Britain.

We also hope the government will also move as we have asked to ban EU industrial Sandeel fishing in the central North Sea. Predominantly perused by Danish fishermen who take hundreds of thousands of tons of this vital food source for pig feed to the detriment of the stocks our fishermen depend on and sea bird life. Such a ban would also be an easy win in environmental credentials for the government.

This is one of the 7 objectives for the fisheries bill Fishing for Leave hoped to see to ensure a fresh start for all so as to rejuvenate British fishing to be the equal of Norway post-Brexit. We now hope to see the government legislatively honour the promises made in the Fisheries White Paper and will continue to fight remorselessly to see it happen – this is just the beginning”.

 

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