EU Announces Ban On Controversial Electric Pulse Trawling

After declaring that all plastic must be recyclable by 2030 in the European Union, the EU continued its push to protect the environment by banning the use of electric pulse trawling.

The ban will incorporate new rules on how, where, and when fish can be caught and also moves to simplify the more than 30 fishing regulations currently in place. The updates will include common measures on fishing gear, methods and the minimum catch size of fish, restriction on fishing areas and times that the area can be fished.

The decision comes after much argument about the impractical, complex, and rigid system that was in place. By simplifying the standards, they will become more clear and practical to implement.

In regards to the ban on pulsed electrical current fishing, there was a lot of disagreement about its effectiveness and impact on the environment. Conservationists argue the process causes unnecessary harm to the ocean floor, while supporters believe it causes less disturbance to the seafloor and catches less non targeted species.

Traditional trawling has long been known to produce a lot of bycatch which is where a fish is caught unintentionally Trawling works by keeping nets open by beams mounted at each of the ship. The nets are dragged behind the open net by a chain and dragged along the seafloor. The chains that are dragging along the seafloor stir up marine species causing them to swim right into the nets.

A pulse trawler, on the other hand, uses bursts of electricity to shock flatfish out of the sediment and into the nets. Supporters say the pulses churn up less of the seafloor, impacting benthic species less and reducing bycatch. Fishermen contend that the lighter load means vessels are more fuel efficient.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) found little evidence that electrical currents cause serious harm. A 2017 study found the only known irreversible harm is done to large cod and whiting – 10 percent of which suffer vertebral fractures and hemorrhages when their muscles over-contract from the shock.

However, some organizations and campaign groups argue very little serious research has been carried out to investigate the long-term effects of electrical fishing and its impact on the wider marine environment. Environmental organizations argue that catching flatfish with gill nets, stationary curtains of netting that have a much lower bycatch rate than either kind of trawling, do less damage to the sea floor.

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