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'The marine equivalent of fracking': Europe to legalise controversial pulse fishing

The European Parliament’s fishing committee allowed a motion to pass legalising the controversial technique.

Image: Wanida tubtawee via Shutterstock

A BRANCH OF the European Union has voted to allow an untested type of fishing that sends electric shocks through the seabed.

The European Parliament fisheries committee decided to allow “electric pulse” fishing to be considered conventional, a move which would allow EU states to licence it like any other type of fishing.

The technique was invented in the Netherlands in 1992, and because of this mostly Dutch ships use the technique.

The fishing method replaces the chains of traditional “beam” trawling with a series of electrical drag wires mounted into the net. The wires send electrical pulses into the seabed which cause the muscles of fish to contract and forces the fish upwards and out of the seabed and into the net.

It’s also been alleged that the practice uses 46% less fuel and reduces the number of areas ships need to go to catch the fish.

The Dutch have remained the biggest advocates of pulse fishing, claiming that it ensures that more of the target species caught, less damage to the seabed and fish that are caught are in better condition.

But critics have raised concerns about the lack of testing the technique has, and called the method destructive and “the marine equivalent of fracking”.

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada, who’s a member of the EP fisheries committee, said that although the technique isn’t used in Ireland, “it’s only a matter of time” if the technique becomes legal.

She says if Dutch ships that use the technique were to fish in Irish waters, the practice would impact on Ireland that way.

As the legislation was passed, it’s likely that the practice will be allowed in Ireland. Ní Riada’s amendment would mean that greater responsibility is given to the local fishermen and fishing organisations on how fishing practices are used.

The Irish Wildlife Trust had urged the committee’s members to resist the measure. In a statement it said:

“The development of industrial electrocution of marine life is a further indicator of chronic overfishing of our waters, which requires ever more destructive modes of capture to target what’s left of fish and invertebrate populations for commercial exploitation.”

Read: Are fisheries the first casualty in a Brexit split between Ireland and the UK?

Read: Ireland calls UK withdrawal from fisheries agreement ‘unhelpful and unwelcome’

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