Difference between revisions of "🐟 Fishing series: The scandal of electric fishing"

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[[File:Electric trawl.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|A pulse fishing trawl]]
 
[[File:Electric trawl.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|A pulse fishing trawl]]
 
[[File:Pulse fishing vote.jpg|thumb|Thumbnailed image|EU's 2017 vote to ban electric pulse fishing]]
 
[[File:Pulse fishing vote.jpg|thumb|Thumbnailed image|EU's 2017 vote to ban electric pulse fishing]]
 
[[File:Visned.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|Illustration produced by VisNed, one of the most powerful dutch fishing lobby]]
 
[[File:Visned.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|Illustration produced by VisNed, one of the most powerful dutch fishing lobby]]
 
[[File:Broken spine.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|Scan of a fish’s spine broken by the shock of the pulse]]
 
[[File:Broken spine.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|Scan of a fish’s spine broken by the shock of the pulse]]
[[File:A flat sole.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|A flat sole.png]]
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[[File:A flat sole.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|Sole]]
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[[File:Pulse fishing exemptions map.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|A map showing the area for which exemptions were granted]]
 
[[File:Newspaper pulse.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|British fishing magazine announcing the ban of pulse fishing]]
 
[[File:Newspaper pulse.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|British fishing magazine announcing the ban of pulse fishing]]
[[File:Electric fishing.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|A pulse fishing trawl]]
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[[File:Bycatch.png|thumb|Thumbnailed image|The bicatch of an electric trawler. Must of unwanted species such as sea stars will be thrown back into the water. Unfortunately, a large % having gone through electric shock, will just be left to perish.]]
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You may have heard the term “electric fishing” before. If you have, it is most likely due to the fact that “electric fishing” has turned out to be an ongoing scandal-story  followed by the press and NGOs since the end of the millennia. And the main actor of this scandal is: <u>The Netherlands</u>.  
 
You may have heard the term “electric fishing” before. If you have, it is most likely due to the fact that “electric fishing” has turned out to be an ongoing scandal-story  followed by the press and NGOs since the end of the millennia. And the main actor of this scandal is: <u>The Netherlands</u>.  
  
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— See note below<ref>Declaimer: It is produced by “pulsefishing.eu” which is primarily funded by the “Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality”. It, therefore, relies on biased numbers.</ref>
 
— See note below<ref>Declaimer: It is produced by “pulsefishing.eu” which is primarily funded by the “Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality”. It, therefore, relies on biased numbers.</ref>
  
== The impact of electric fishing on the Environment and marine life ==
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== Impact of electric fishing on the Environment and marine life ==
  
 
==== The argument of Fuel ====
 
==== The argument of Fuel ====
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:Pulse fishing was therefore advertised by the dutch as a “climate friendly”, less calorific alternative than conventional trawling with numbers such as 46% less fuel. These incredible numbers on which the dutch relied to advocate for more pulse trawling are however challenged by french NGO [http://www.bloomassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/plaidoyer-peche-electrique-v3.pdf/ Bloom] which argues that electric trawlers use slightly less fuel<ref>An electric trawler consumes 2.21 litres of fuel per kilo of fish caught, whereas a beam trawler consumes 2.36 l/kg</ref> because they manage to catch their sole quota much faster with the efficiency of the gear.   
 
:Pulse fishing was therefore advertised by the dutch as a “climate friendly”, less calorific alternative than conventional trawling with numbers such as 46% less fuel. These incredible numbers on which the dutch relied to advocate for more pulse trawling are however challenged by french NGO [http://www.bloomassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/plaidoyer-peche-electrique-v3.pdf/ Bloom] which argues that electric trawlers use slightly less fuel<ref>An electric trawler consumes 2.21 litres of fuel per kilo of fish caught, whereas a beam trawler consumes 2.36 l/kg</ref> because they manage to catch their sole quota much faster with the efficiency of the gear.   
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 +
== ==
  
 
==== The effect on marine life ====
 
==== The effect on marine life ====
 
:The electric current, which was meant to knock the fish out for a few minutes, was actually proven to make fish undergo violent convulsions, often leading fish touched by the pulse to be injured or to die.  
 
:The electric current, which was meant to knock the fish out for a few minutes, was actually proven to make fish undergo violent convulsions, often leading fish touched by the pulse to be injured or to die.  
  
:50% to 70% of northern sea cod in the array of the electric arc are said to be left with a broken spine and internal bleeding<ref>The effect of electric pulse stimulation to juvenile cod and cod of commercial landing size. IMARES Report C141/11. Available at: www.wur.nl/en/Publication-details.htm?publicationId=pub-lication-way-343137383633.55<br>Pulse trawl fishing: characteristics of the electrical stimulation and the effect on behaviour and injuries of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). ICES Journal of Marine Science 73(6): 1557-1569.</ref>. Just as well, since electric fishing is in use in the north sea, the north sea has seen its banks of cod eggs reduced by 25% as the electric current used by electric trawlers jeopardizes the integrity and future of marine ecosystems by impacting both the hatching of eggs and survival of larvae.
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:50% to 70% of northern sea cod in the array of the electric arc are said to be left with a broken spine and internal bleeding<ref>The effect of electric pulse stimulation to juvenile cod and cod of commercial landing size. IMARES Report C141/11. Available [http//:www.wur.nl/en/Publication-details.htm?publicationId=pub-lication-way-343137383633.55/ here] <br>Pulse trawl fishing: characteristics of the electrical stimulation and the effect on behaviour and injuries of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). ICES Journal of Marine Science 73(6): 1557-1569.</ref>. Just as well, since electric fishing is in use in the north sea, the north sea has seen its banks of cod eggs reduced by 25% as the electric current used by electric trawlers jeopardizes the integrity and future of marine ecosystems by impacting both the hatching of eggs and survival of larvae.
 
 
These are few between many detrimental impacts of pulse fishing on the environment. (to learn more on the matter, you can read through: [http://www.bloomassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/plaidoyer-peche-electrique-v3.pdf/ Bloom’s document which references many detailed studies] 
 
 
 
 
  
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== ==
  
 +
These are few between many detrimental impacts of pulse fishing on the environment. (to learn more on the matter, you can read through: [http://www.bloomassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/plaidoyer-peche-electrique-v3.pdf/ Bloom’s document]  which references many detailed studies.
  
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== The dutch Scandal ==
  
 +
If pulse electric fishing is a technic used since the 1970s, most countries (including China) came to the conclusion that its effect on marine life were destructive which led the European ban of 1998.
  
 +
The law was however quickly ratified (unofficially as a result of the work of the dutch lobby), allowing a maximum of 5% of the fleet of each EU country to pursue electric trawling for research purposes.<br>
 +
From 2006 onwards, the EU granted up to 84 illegal permits to the Netherlands, which allowed it to equip around 40% of its total fleet with electric pulse systems.
  
 +
The European commission seemingly omitted to mention a scientific document delivered by the STECF<ref>The Scientific, Technical And Economic Committee For Fisheries - scientific organ of experts of the European commission</ref> a month earlier. This report stated that electric pulse fishing still seemed to be detrimental for marine life and that multiple problems related to the practice would have to be solved before granting any permit. If there seems to be no proof of this so-called “lobby work” of the dutch, the facts are that the European overpassed its own scientific commission to grant these permits.
  
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<gallery mode="traditional" weight=700px>
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File:First-prohibition-1998-EU.jpg|1998 EU ban
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File:Journal-Commission-Europe-authorizing-permits-for-electric-pulse-fishing.png|2006 Ratified law based on omitted scientific report
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File:2006 report Europeeancomission Scientific-branch 1-month-before-permits.jpg|2006 Omitted STEFC report
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</gallery>
  
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Since 2007, at least 21.5 million € of public subsidies have been allocated to the development of the industrial electric fishing fleet in the Netherlands for research that was never conducted.<br>
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Moreover, EU laws also demand that, if commercial fishing activities occur during the conduct of scientific research, the value of the catch be paid back to public authorities to avoid scientific research being used to generate undue profits — this law was of course never applied. 
  
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<gallery mode="traditional" weight=700px>
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File:Number-of-boats-pursuing-research.jpeg|Number of dutch boats actually pursuing research
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File:Congratulations to dutch fishermen.jpg|NL government still denying impact on the environment in 2019
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</gallery>
  
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== Dutch scientists admit ==
  
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Adriaan Rijnsdorp, organic fisherman and researcher from the influencial Wageningen University (the one officialy conducting the research on the electric pulse fishing boats), stated in 2018:
  
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"<i>The Netherlands have gone beyond the legal framework in recent years by expanding the number of temporary permits. It seemed experimental, but researchers have never written a proposal for a research program that required 84 vessels […] Fishing with electric 'pulse' trawlers is just more profitable</i>".<ref>BioNieuws, edition of January 27 2018</ref>
  
 
== Notes ==
 
== Notes ==

Revision as of 18:00, 14 February 2020

A pulse fishing trawl
EU's 2017 vote to ban electric pulse fishing
Illustration produced by VisNed, one of the most powerful dutch fishing lobby
Scan of a fish’s spine broken by the shock of the pulse
Sole
A map showing the area for which exemptions were granted
British fishing magazine announcing the ban of pulse fishing
The bicatch of an electric trawler. Must of unwanted species such as sea stars will be thrown back into the water. Unfortunately, a large % having gone through electric shock, will just be left to perish.

You may have heard the term “electric fishing” before. If you have, it is most likely due to the fact that “electric fishing” has turned out to be an ongoing scandal-story followed by the press and NGOs since the end of the millennia. And the main actor of this scandal is: The Netherlands.

In fact, the green country, famous for its windmills and its peaceful pairies, may appear has one of the most advanced actors of the fight against climate change, whereas in reality the Netherlands is home to multiple institutions[1] and lobbies[2] which do not shy away from breaking the law to reach maximum productivity.

To that end, the scandal of “Electric fishing” has allowed NGOs[3] and the international community to shine a light on the Netherlands’s shameless violations of EU law, its extensive lobbying on the European Commission and its total indifference towards the state of the marine life in general.

But what is “Electric fishing”?

If the first image that comes to your mind is of fisherman, fishing rod in hand, electrocuting fishes, you are not too far off…

“Electric fishing” also called “Pulse fishing” is a technic designed to catch flat fish (such as sole or plaice) and crustaceans hiding under the sand at the bottom of the sea. It consists of a giant net equipped with electrodes, dragged by a boat across the sea bed. This net creates an electric field which knocks out the fish within its reach. Under shock and unable to move, the fish then float up to the surface of the water which allows the fishermen to simply scoop them up by the ton.

Click on this video to get a clearer idea of the system.
— See note below[4]

Impact of electric fishing on the Environment and marine life

The argument of Fuel

Before the invention of pulse fishing or “pulse trawling”, fishing boats would only rely on “beam trawling”, which consists of dragging heavy chains along the sea bed to dislodge mollusks and flat fishes hiding under the sand at the bottom of the sea. This method, which has a devastative impact on the sea beds, unintentionally catch unwanted species, is also very costly. Indeed, trawling calls on large amounts of diesel to allow the dragging of the chain and net.
Pulse fishing was therefore advertised by the dutch as a “climate friendly”, less calorific alternative than conventional trawling with numbers such as 46% less fuel. These incredible numbers on which the dutch relied to advocate for more pulse trawling are however challenged by french NGO Bloom which argues that electric trawlers use slightly less fuel[5] because they manage to catch their sole quota much faster with the efficiency of the gear.

The effect on marine life

The electric current, which was meant to knock the fish out for a few minutes, was actually proven to make fish undergo violent convulsions, often leading fish touched by the pulse to be injured or to die.
50% to 70% of northern sea cod in the array of the electric arc are said to be left with a broken spine and internal bleeding[6]. Just as well, since electric fishing is in use in the north sea, the north sea has seen its banks of cod eggs reduced by 25% as the electric current used by electric trawlers jeopardizes the integrity and future of marine ecosystems by impacting both the hatching of eggs and survival of larvae.

These are few between many detrimental impacts of pulse fishing on the environment. (to learn more on the matter, you can read through: Bloom’s document which references many detailed studies.

The dutch Scandal

If pulse electric fishing is a technic used since the 1970s, most countries (including China) came to the conclusion that its effect on marine life were destructive which led the European ban of 1998.

The law was however quickly ratified (unofficially as a result of the work of the dutch lobby), allowing a maximum of 5% of the fleet of each EU country to pursue electric trawling for research purposes.
From 2006 onwards, the EU granted up to 84 illegal permits to the Netherlands, which allowed it to equip around 40% of its total fleet with electric pulse systems.

The European commission seemingly omitted to mention a scientific document delivered by the STECF[7] a month earlier. This report stated that electric pulse fishing still seemed to be detrimental for marine life and that multiple problems related to the practice would have to be solved before granting any permit. If there seems to be no proof of this so-called “lobby work” of the dutch, the facts are that the European overpassed its own scientific commission to grant these permits.

Since 2007, at least 21.5 million € of public subsidies have been allocated to the development of the industrial electric fishing fleet in the Netherlands for research that was never conducted.
Moreover, EU laws also demand that, if commercial fishing activities occur during the conduct of scientific research, the value of the catch be paid back to public authorities to avoid scientific research being used to generate undue profits — this law was of course never applied.

Dutch scientists admit

Adriaan Rijnsdorp, organic fisherman and researcher from the influencial Wageningen University (the one officialy conducting the research on the electric pulse fishing boats), stated in 2018:

"The Netherlands have gone beyond the legal framework in recent years by expanding the number of temporary permits. It seemed experimental, but researchers have never written a proposal for a research program that required 84 vessels […] Fishing with electric 'pulse' trawlers is just more profitable".[8]

Notes

  1. We can here reference the powerful Wageningen University which slogan says it all: “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life.
  2. We can here mention “VisNed”
  3. In particular, french NGO Bloom, which played a major part in the affair.
  4. Declaimer: It is produced by “pulsefishing.eu” which is primarily funded by the “Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality”. It, therefore, relies on biased numbers.
  5. An electric trawler consumes 2.21 litres of fuel per kilo of fish caught, whereas a beam trawler consumes 2.36 l/kg
  6. The effect of electric pulse stimulation to juvenile cod and cod of commercial landing size. IMARES Report C141/11. Available [http//:www.wur.nl/en/Publication-details.htm?publicationId=pub-lication-way-343137383633.55/ here]
    Pulse trawl fishing: characteristics of the electrical stimulation and the effect on behaviour and injuries of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). ICES Journal of Marine Science 73(6): 1557-1569.
  7. The Scientific, Technical And Economic Committee For Fisheries - scientific organ of experts of the European commission
  8. BioNieuws, edition of January 27 2018