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NGOs and fishermen demand derogation of exemptions for electric fishing

A group of NGOs and fishermen's organizations fear that the European Parliament will decide this month to reauthorize fishing throughout Europe, instead of restoring the ban imposed in 1998.

In a letter addressed to the European Commission (EC), the group reveals a "compromising document" that questions the morality of the proposal made in 2016 by this European body to suspend the ban on this fishing practice.

The letter states that the scientific recommendations were ignored and requests the EC to immediately withdraw all provisions related to electric fishing from its legislative proposal on the Technical Measures Regulation, which will be voted on January 16 in the European Parliament.

Electric fishing involves the use of trawl fishing nets with electrodes that send electrical pulses that cause muscle seizures in marine organisms and force them out of the sediment to be able to capture them more easily in the net.

Conservationists argue that this method of fishing causes very serious impacts of destruction of marine life and environment. They also emphasize that it is als very harmful  for small-scale artisanal fishermen.

Electric fishing is an illegal practice in EU waters, but in 2006 the EC proposed the granting of some exceptions, despite the 1998 ban on using this destructive method, for research and scientific work. The measure applies to about 100 trawlers, most of which are owned by the Dutch and operate mainly in the North Sea of the United Kingdom. The British government has ordered an investigation into the practice and ministers may decide to restrict or ban it after Brexit, The Times reported.

In a statement, the groups that sent the letter said that the EU Council adopted the Commission proposal, despite the fact that the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee of the Fisheries Committee (STECF) had written a report in which it was urged to solve some problems before an exception could be granted.

In this regard, they denounce that under pressure from Dutch fishing groups, the EC decided not only to ignore its own expert committee, but also to falsely claim scientific recommendations in support of its decision to revoke the ban on electric fishing.

They also affirm that artisanal fishermen suffer a direct impact if this method of fishing method is used, and that the decision adopted in 2006 has had serious consequences both for ecosystems and for human beings.

Besides, they consider that the measure has had terrible financial consequences. In this regard, they explain that Dutch industry lobbies were able to request millionaire amounts of money to equip their rod trawl fleet with electrodes, since this method received the status of "experimental" and "innovative" fishing.

The group that claims to the EC the immediate suspension of all the provisions related to fishing of electrical 'impulse' of its legislative proposal is conformed by the Bloom Association, Blue Marine Foundation, Irish Wildlife Trust, French activists and organizations of fishermen, among others .


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