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Electric dyeing in the EU ends again. Dutch fishermen do not have that pleasure

The current European Parliament's decision on the ban on fishing with the help of an electric pulse net raises the same level of enthusiasm and embarrassment. In 2006, the same authority was permitted and many fishing companies massively invested in this seemingly less harmful technology. For example, he writes about ScienceMag.

By mid-January, the European Parliament has again reacted to the regulatory measures applicable to European fishermen. Apart from the anticipated changes such as the increase in the permitted minimum size of fish caught and the increase of the regional protection of young fish stocks (both of these measures are to prevent overfishing of fish stocks in European waters), there has been a ban on fishing using the so-called electric pulse network. This decision was surprised by nature and fisherman. The latter, of course, less pleasantly.

Selective, effective, less drastic

This "highly controversial" practice was adopted by the European Parliament in 2006 as a much more gentle fishing method, effective especially for catching plaice. Why controversial? It combines a criticized, yet globally accepted, method of trolling, which is to tow a trawl net around a ship that collects everything alive from the bottom, with the electric-hunting method (which is largely forbidden in sea fishing). However, the exception to this rule was taken by the Dutch - for a quick test, and they came up with surprising conclusions.

Their electrical pulse network was effective and selective above the ratios. How did it look like? The towed net in their design is not dragged directly down the bottom: it does not directly damage the cliffs and does not collect all that it encounters. In the network, the integrated electrical cable emits electrical impulses that "lift" off the bottom and sand-covered flatfish (they are more susceptible to electricity than other types of fish), and they end up in the network. The benefits of this method are obvious compared to other conventional approaches. Among them, it is mainly the pulling of chains along the seafloor that scattered and lifted the plaice out of hiding.

Such an approach, however, strongly disrupted the character of the seabed. In low-lying trawl nets, too many fish species are stuck than those that are interested in plaice hunters. With the use of the electric pulse network, the Dutch by-catch limited only to 10% of the volume of gravity. And most importantly, the pulse network is lightweight: cheaper, more affordable, usable with a smaller boat. The fishing vessel can therefore travel at a lower speed and far less distort the world below the surface. These results have been convinced by the European Parliament, and therefore, in 2006, hunting with the help of an electric pulse network was among the permitted fishing methods. But now it's over.

Innovation that bothers anyone

In 2009, 28% (75 vessels) of the Dutch fishing fleet were equipped with a pulse nets, and in the years to come, these figures have increased. Fishermen's decision to move on to more sustainable fishing methods was also welcomed by local NGOs, Greenpeace Netherlands and North Sea Foundations. What is the problem? The Dutch are not the only fishermen in European waters, and the aforementioned nonprofit is not among the lone players on the environmental market. There is, for example, the Paris Environmental Bloom Association, which has been badly affected by the practice of the pulse network.

And there were also fishermen from other countries who did not have an expanding hunting license with the help of an electric pulse network and felt disadvantaged. ICES (the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) has also been involved in the debate, arguing that the pulse network is by far less harmless and can cause particularly serious harm. Under pressure from these organizations, this year the European Parliament has decided to prohibit fishing with the help of an electric pulse network with effect from 2019. The Netherlands has already reacted and has reduced the number of licenses issued for this fishing to 5% of the current quantity.

But this decision is embarrassing. "It will be harder for us ever before to motivate our fishermen to embark on a journey of innovation," says Greenpeace Netherlands. "Their efforts to make things better now turn against them are penalizing their willingness to adopt more grueling fishing methods." The North Sea Foundation agrees with the fact that the European Parliament's decision is "at least unfortunate . " "Honestly, I'm surprised," says Marloes Kraan of the Wageningen Marine Research Center. "We did not expect a ban at the moment." But it does not look black everywhere. People from the Bloom Association perceive the decision as a breakthrough and consider them a great victory in the name of nature conservation. And in some ways, fishermen from other countries are enthusiastic. The Netherlands has favored the exception, it will have to return to the traditional trolley networks.

The way back will hurt

It seems that the European Parliament may have just failed to look at the environmental ballast on complaints about electric pulse nets and rather than the fish population to defend their decisions with the competitiveness of fishermen from other countries. Pim Visser, head of the Dutch association of fishermen in Urka, adds: "Boats equipped with power grids were more efficient. They burned only half the fuel, hit a smaller part of the sea. It was a technique that selectively hunted one species. With less environmental impact, we have achieved significantly better economic results. And that's probably what someone has bothered. "

At the very least, the Dutch Sea Defenders now agree that if their fishermen (at least those who do not backtrack) return to the nets and the original methods of fishing, they will cause more damage to the environment than if they were left with "electricity".

Author: Radomír Dohnal, Associate Ekolist

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