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'It doesn't give the fish a chance': Irish MEPs urged to vote against electric pulse fishing

The practice involves dragging an electrified net across the sea floor, stunning all of the marine life in its path.

THE IRISH WILDLIFE Trust (IWT) is urging Irish members of the European Parliament to vote against a proposal to allow electric pulse fishing to become normal practice across the EU.

This practice, described by the IWT as “industrial-scale electrocution of marine life”,  involves dragging an electrified net across the sea floor, stunning all of the sea life in its path.

The IWT pointed to research by the French marine preservation organisation Bloom which found that the decision to allow electric pulse fishing to be done on an experimental basis went against the scientific advice of the day.

“Proponents defend the electrocution of sea life by saying it is less harmful than the dredging practices currently carried out. This is like promoting cholera because it is better than a dose of the plague,” the trust said.

“The history of fishing in Ireland has been one of short-term exploitation in favour of long-term management of marine resources. This has led to the drastic reduction in sea life populations and the disappearance of coastal fishers who traditionally use small boats and low-impact gear. If we want to reverse this trend we need better protections for marine life, not another step on the road to ruin.”

The IWT said it has written to all Irish MEPs urging them to reinstate the original blanket ban which came into force in 1998. They are due to vote on the proposal in the parliament this week.

Conflicting reports

In November last year, Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada voiced her concerns about the “unknown effects” of pulse fishing. This followed a debate on the practice before the EU Fisheries Committee, which resulted in a vote in favour of allowing it to be used by a small percentage of ships on a trial basis.

“The fact of the matter regarding pulse fishing is that we simply don’t know the long term effects it will have on stocks or the environment,” she said.

“All we have are anecdotal, and often conflicting, reports from various proponents from the industrial sector, many who have vested interests in the practice.


unnamed Liadh Ní Riada has expressed concern about the practice as she says there are conflicting reports about the longterm effects.

“There is nobody I trust more to ensure that Irish waters are kept safe and sustainable than Irish fishermen.
,” Ne Riada added.

I certainly have no desire to stand in the way of sustainable fishing and if a thorough assessment shows pulse fishing not to be unselective, unsustainable or catastrophic then so be it, but that is not what fishermen are saying on the ground.

 There are too many reports about the damaging effect it can have from around the world to allow it to go ahead unchecked.


Speaking to, Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly said he does not think pulse fishing in a wide scale is “the way to go”.

“In some respect, it doesn’t give the fish any chance, it would be exploited probably, as we all know no matter how tight regulations are, they are often difficult to monitor and control,” he said.

“It goes against the natural way – the nets are sufficient. You’d really have to have very strong research-based evidence that this is better than traditional fishing and conserves stocks better,” he said.

“And also better management and for it to be controlled properly so it wouldn’t be open to abuse and exploitation All of that would have to be ensured before you’d five the go ahead for it.”

Read: A disputed Irish-UK territory is one of many fishing problems caused by Brexit>

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