France outlaws pulse fishing ahead of EU-wide ban

15 Aug 2019 / 11:21 H.

PARIS: France’s agriculture ministry said Wednesday that it had officially banned electric pulse fishing from its territorial waters, ahead of a total ban of the contested practice in the European Union set for 2021.

French fishermen have long railed against pulse fishing by their Dutch counterparts, calling it unfair competition that leads to unsustainable stock depletions.

Dozens of top European chefs have also denounced the technique, in which electrically charged lines are dragged above the seafloor to shock sole and other low-lying fish upwards into nets — they claim it results in poor-quality catches.

Dutch fishermen dispute the claims, but in April the European Parliament voted to outlaw the practice starting in 2021.

France had vowed to implement the ban sooner, a move that will forbid Dutch vessels from using the practice in French territorial waters.

The method is already outlawed in many parts of the world, including China, but proponents say it is environmentally friendly and results in lower fuel usage for boats.

The EU had previously allowed member states to equip up to five percent of their fleets with electrodes.

Fishermen in the Netherlands pioneered the technique and invested heavily in equipping their boats with the electrified lines, though only 84 vessels were using the technique — a small fraction of the country’s fleet. — AFP

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