Is Electric Fishing Cheating Our Oceans?
Electric pulse fishing, a giant net attached to a fishing boat laden with electrodes, is dragged across the seabed producing an electric field in the water. It shocks the fish on the seafloor which then float up to the surface for fishermen to scoop up. In some ways, it’s an improvement over commercial fishing methods like trawling, but it could be turning the sea into a desert. For centuries, commercial fishing boats used a conventional method called beam trawling. The boats drag massive chains along the seabed to force the bottom dwelling shrimp and flat fish out from under the sand. But this method is costly. Fishermen are required to use large amounts of diesel to power the boat dragging the heavy nets. It’s also considered one of the most environmentally dangerous fishing methods. Chains damage the seafloor and the huge nets unintentionally catch other species. The first trials with marine electoral trawls in Europe, were conducted in the 1970s in the Netherlands. It was promoted as a more sustainable alternative to beam trawling, as carbon emissions are significantly lower and the seabed isn’t physically destroyed. But in the 90s, potential consequences of the method were surfacing. Yet, it’s still practiced despite bans and public outcry. So, buyers are starting to reject fish caught by it. The luxury chain hotel, Relais and Chateaux, and a group of Michelin starred chefs say they will not cook with pulse caught fish. [FOREIGN]. British and French supermarkets, Waitrose and Entremosche, will not sell fish caught this way either. Here’s why. Bloom, a French non-governmental organisation campaigning against the practice, says it permanently damages marine life. Just like trawling, electric pulse fishing is indiscriminate. All fish within the vicinity of the pulses are at risk. These pulses can break spines of fish like cod, haddock and pollock. It can even damage future populations. Electric pulse fishing has reduced the hatching rate of cod eggs in Dogger Bank North Sea by 25 percent. It could affect electro-sensitive species like sharks and rays. Sharks detect their prey, through sensory receptors that run along their sides. The European Union banned it in 1998 along with other destructive fishing methods, including the use of explosives, poisonous, or stupefying substances. But, it’s still happening. In 2006, the European Union granted 80 permits allowing members to use electric fishing to fulfill their fishing quota in the North Sea, in the name of research. The Dutch claims it uses 46 percent less fuel and catches 50 percent less unwanted marine life than other trawling methods. But even this may be causing grave damage. Research by the Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies says, this type of current causes violent uncontrolled convulsions that leaves 50 to 70 percent of large cods with a fractured spine and internal bleeding after being electrocuted. Some fishermen believe this method is hurting their catch. One Belgium fisherman said that, “Where six years ago, it was not a problem to catch 15 kilograms of cod, this has fallen back to zero kilograms in recent years. Certainly, the last two years, nothing was caught anymore.” For now, the European Parliament will continue to negotiate with European institutions and member states to compromise on fishing regulations. That leaves the Netherlands able to continue electric pulse fishing as a form of research until the new legislation is in place. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe, and hit that notification bell, so you’re notified every time we post a new video. See you next time.