Mike Hookem MEP Slams EU for Ignoring Scientific Warnings

New report highlights how EU Commissioners ignored own scientific advice to allow destructive fishing method blamed for making the seabed “a desert.”

Mike Hookem 2017

EFDD fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP, has blasted EU Commissioners for allowing Dutch fishers to use the “grotesque and highly destructive” electro-pulse fishing method on British fishing grounds; despite being warned by scientific advisors against a derogation from the EU’s ban on fishing with electricity.

A seething Mr Hookem – who has campaigned against electro-pulse fishing for over two years – described the move as, “a blatant disregard of the environmental impacts and scientific evidence to assist an ailing Dutch fishing fleet through profit creation!”

A new report by the Low Impact Fishers of Europe organisation (LIFE), today revealed that despite EU claims that Commissioners were advised “to allow” electro-pulse fishing in two sections of the North Sea; STECF – the EU’s own committee of experts on fisheries – actually advised against granting ‘experimental’ licences until the impacts of pulse trawl fisheries on non-target species and the potential impact on vertebrates and invertebrate species had been “resolved.”

However, despite growing evidence from fishers across Europe that electro-pulse fishing methods are highly destructive to the marine ecology, the European Parliament will vote next week on relaxing the rules on electro-pulse fishing.

Speaking during a lobbying tour of the European Parliament, Mr Hookem said, “It would seem in this case that the EU Commission has ignored its own scientific advice in order to grant a licence simply to chase profit – which is, in my opinion, typical of these un-elected bureaucrats.”

“By doing so, the EU Commission has given in to the demands of the powerful Dutch fisheries lobby, rather than discharging their duties in the interests of what is right for all European fishers.

“While the Dutch are keen to promote electro-pulse fishing as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional beam fishing, nothing could be further from the truth!

“More and more evidence is coming to light showing how the electric used is snapping the spines of mature codfish. Evidence also points to electro-pulse killing vertebrates and invertebrate species; eradicating most life on the seabed. Add the continued damage that the dragging of pulse trawls continues to do to the seabed, and the potential for overfishing of target stocks due to the efficiency of this method, and we have the potential for an ecological disaster in British and EU waters.

“Let’s not forgot; this fishing method is already banned in China for simply being too efficient! Yet, the European Parliament is set to relax the rules. It’s absolute craziness!

“And it is not just British fishers who are reporting damage to both fish and fishing grounds! French, Belgium, and even non-electro-pulse Dutch fishers are all saying the same thing – that traditional catches are being wiped out as the Dutch electro-pulse boats reap the rewards.

“That is why I have drafted several amendments to be considered in plenary next week, calling for an outright ban on this destructive and dangerous form of fishing.

“These amendments are not aimed at just protecting British fishing grounds, but also the fishing grounds and stocks used by small-scale, French, Belgian and Dutch fishers who are all seeing their livelihood destroyed.

“Let’s not forget that fishing with electricity is illegal in the EU. Therefore, if MEPs are serious about protecting the marine environment and conserving fish stocks, they will vote for a ban on this most destructive practice.”