North Sea Foundation statement on the European Parliament's vote to ban the use of pulsed electric current for fishing - Stichting De Noordzee

The European Parliament has voted for a total ban on pulse fishing. This relatively new technique could possibly contribute to more sustainable fisheries. The risks and opportunities are in need of further research, therefore it’s unfortunate that the EP draws this tough line before the research is concluded. Having said that, the Dutch government should have been more prudent with the pulse derogations in the past. We call upon the fishermen not to be discouraged to embrace further innovation. We remain committed, together with the Dutch fishermen and government, to promote sustainable innovation in fisheries.

While we recognise that the Dutch government has been reckless in its persistent pursuit of pulse licenses, the fisheries sector should not be punished for developing and implementing innovations; this would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. Increasing the sustainability of the fishing industry is as necessary as it is complex. In the coming years innovation will be essential for developing fishing techniques that minimise ecosystem damage while simultaneously being profitable for fishermen.

It’s possible that pulse can play a valuable role in the transition to sustainable fisheries in the North Sea. Therefore, the true risks of pulse fishing for the marine environment must be made clear once and for all. Innovative fishing methods should only be allowed if they have less ecological impact than existing techniques. Whether or not this is the case should be determined by independent scientific research. The ban the EP now desires, could put a stop to this research. Additionally, there is a risk that a possible ban puts the breaks on the will to innovate in the fisheries sector – at a time where innovation is needed to establish a healthy sea and sustainable fisheries.