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Don’t allow Electric Pulse fishing in our waters

Any UK divers among you may have seen the devastation caused to the sea bed by beam trawlers. This is a method used for over 100 years to catch species that live and feed on or near the bottom.  The mouth of the net is held open by a solid metal bar and up to twenty ‘tickler chains’ thrash the sea bed in-front of the net to stir up flatfish and prawns.

Unfortunately according to Greenpeace it is considered to be one of the most destructive forms of commercial fishing due to the high levels of bycatch (the incidental capture of non-target species) and the terrible damage caused to the seabed.

In a bid to combat this damage an alternative type of trawling has been tested in EU waters mainly by the Dutch fishing fleet. This is called electric pulse fishing. This is a technologically advanced – and highly controversial method of commercial fishing which has only been used on an experimental basis up until now, but attempts have been made to make this a mainstream commercial fishing method across Europe’s fisheries. The pulse trawl gear consists of a number of electrodes, attached to the gear in the tow direction, these electrodes emit short electric pulses into the seabed which causes the muscles of fish and prawns to contract and forces them to rise upwards and into the net. It has been suggested that pulse fishing could reduce bycatch, limit the damage to seabeds, cut carbon emissions and ensure that the fish caught are in a better condition and reach a higher price at market.

The Dutch have remained the biggest proponents of pulse trawling and have pushed for restrictions on pulse trawling to be lifted. Furthermore – and the point that is of most interest to commercial fishermen – is that pulse trawls are up to ten times lighter than traditional beam trawling gear, mean-ing that fishing with pulse gear uses much less fuel than beam trawling. Although it costs around £300,000 to convert a beam trawler to a pulse trawler and retrain the crew to use the new equipment, the savings that can be made mean that this investment can soon repay itself. It is not difficult to see why the Dutch fishing industry is pushing forward with pulse trawling, and why fishermen from other countries may also be keen to adopt the technology. The lighter fishing gear means huge fuel savings with one Dutch fisherman telling the BBC that he went from taking home €30,000 per year to €70,000 after equipping his fishing boat with pulse trawl equipment.

In a bid to combat this damage an alternative type of trawling has been tested in EU waters mainly by the Dutch fishing fleet. This is called electric pulse fishing. This is a technologically advanced – and highly controversial method of commercial fishing which has only been used on an experimental basis up until now, but attempts have been made to make this a mainstream commercial fishing method across Europe’s fisheries. The pulse trawl gear consists of a number of electrodes, attached to the gear in the tow direction, these electrodes emit short electric pulses into the seabed which causes the muscles of fish and prawns to contract and forces them to rise upwards and into the net. It has been suggested that pulse fishing could reduce bycatch, limit the damage to seabeds, cut carbon emissions and ensure that the fish caught are in a better condition and reach a higher price at market.

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