Molly has said there must be no further expansion of pulse fishing in the EU – a method used to flush out fish and force them into nets with electric pulses. The call comes as small-scale fishers and campaigners across Europe are calling on the European Union to reinstate a ban on the method, and the European Parliament prepare to vote on whether to allow the practice to continue.
Critics argue that fishing using electrical pulses causes suffering to fish and can lead to greater numbers of smaller fish being caught, so exacerbating over-fishing. However, advocates argue the method is less damaging to the seabed than traditional ‘heavy trawls’ – a system of dragging a heavy beam across the bottom of the sea in order to force the fish to emerge; they also argue this method is more energy intensive.
Molly has stopped short of calling for a total ban on pulse fishing but argues for the ‘status quo’ – a Europe-wide ban but with the continuation of limited trials. She said:
“We shouldn’t be substituting one bad technology for another. Both trawling and pulse fishing have their problems and we actually need to work to phase out both. Certainly we must use the precautionary principle to prevent the expansion of untested technologies such as pulse fishing while we wait for the scientific evidence on how harmful this system is on fish and the marine environment.”
Dr Scott Cato said claims and counter-claims over various fishing methods obscured a more important debate over how to safeguard fish stocks and protect the marine environment:
“This is a bit of a distraction from the important debate we need to have about how we preserve and increase our fish stocks and protect our vital marine environment. In particular, we need a legal requirement for fishing to reduce the catches of immature fish by a significant amount within just a few years. We know that EU fisheries management can work well; the fact that North Sea cod stocks are at a 35 year high is proof of this.”