Half of the Dutch fleet that practices electric pulse fishing will be able to do so until mid-2021 under a deal worked out by European Parliament and European Council negotiators. The agreement, concluded on Wednesday night, allows 42 of the 84 Dutch ships that use this fishing method to continue doing so until 30 June 2021.
Electric pulse fishing is hotly contested by environmentalists and fishermen in Belgium and France, who see it as unfair competition.
The technique, used mainly to catch species such as sole and plaice, forces fish up from the marine depths, after which they are easily netted. However, it injures the fish and damages the seabed, its detractors say. Flemish and French fishermen also complain that the fish catch is now smaller in their waters.
Electric pulse fishing was banned up to 2006, when the European Commission agreed to grant exemptions, due to gaps in the regulations. The exemptions have benefitted Dutch fishermen in particular.
Belgian Euro-parliamentarian Frédérique Ries (MR, ADLE), who is involved in the matter, welcomed the future ban, even if takes effect later than had been hoped. On the other hand, Tom Vandenkendelaere (CD&V, PPE) described it it as too little, too late.