Flemish fishermen protest against electro pulse fishing in the North Sea

Flemish fishermen staged a protest outside the fish market at Nieuwpoort in West Flanders against electro pulse fishing. Officially electro pulse fishing is banned throughout Europe. However, Dutch fisherman use an exception allowing the use of pulse fishing techniques for scientific research in the North Sea to catch plaice and sole.

Earlier this year the European Parliament voted to ban this too. However, despite this the method has continued to be used off our shores. This angers Flemish fishermen that claim that their Dutch counterparts are using electro pulse fishing techniques to great an extent.

Currently 84 Dutch trawlers are equipped with electro pulse fishing kit, where originally there were only 12. This results in smaller fishing boats and those fish for pleasure catching fewer fish.    

Electric pulse fishing is a method sometimes used in trawl fisheries. It produces a limited electric field above the seabed to catch fish. The pulse trawl gear consists of a number of electrodes that emit short electric pulses. The electrodes replace the tickler chains that are used in traditional beam trawl fishery. It is mainly used to catch sole and plaice.

The method is commercially attractive also as less unwanted types of fish are caught than when traditional methods are used. Those in favour of the method say that it is more eco-friendly as it is more efficient.