European court upholds ban on electric pulse fishing; Blow to Dutch sector
The Court of Justice of the European Union dismissed a case brought by the Netherlands against the ban on fishing by vessels using electric pulse trawls. According to the court, the EU legislature has wide discretion in this field and is not obliged to base its legislative choice on scientific and technical opinions only.
The Dutch State asked for the ban to be revoked arguing that the environmental impacts of electric pulse trawling were not fairly evaluated when compared to conventional beam trawling, which uses massive netting dragged along the seabed to snare fish. In a case filed by the Netherlands in October 2019, the Netherlands said the EU legislature did not rely on the best scientific opinions available.
"While scientific opinions have identified some advantages with electric pulse trawling as opposed to beam trawling, these opinions also noted that a number of residual risks relating to the former had not yet been fully assessed", the court judgment stated.
Several Dutch MPs have expressed their dissatisfaction with the court ruling, once again pointing out the benefits of this fishing technique. “It is a shame that this innovation did not get a chance. Especially because it is a proven innovative fishing method that would be of great use to us in these times”, CDA member Annie Schreijer-Pierik said, ANP reported.
Peter van Dalen from ChristenUnie said he remained hopeful the legislation could still possibly be changed at a later stage within the European Parliament.
"The pulse will soon be discussed again in the EU parliament during the evaluation of the current regulations. Pulse trawling fishing has been hit again, but not yet beaten", he said.