European ruling strengthens our Flemish fishermen

15 April 2021
Protecting the Flemish fishing industry against Brexit

The European Court of Justice has ruled against the Netherlands with respect to electric pulse fishing and is in favour of retaining the ban on it. The ruling is a good thing for Flemish fishermen, N-VA MPs Sander Loones and Cathy Coudyser say.

In 2019, new European rules were decided to protect fish stocks and the marine ecosystem. This included a ban on fishing with electric pulse trawls. Electric pulse fishing is an innovative way of fishing, using small, underwater electric pulses to startle flatfish (mainly sole and plaice), which are then caught in a trawl.

The Netherlands contested the ban on pulse trawling, but has failed

Dutch fishermen often use this intensive fishing technique, even when fishing in our waters. A total of 84 vessels under the Dutch flag currently have permission to fish with the pulse technique. The Netherlands therefore took the matter to the European Court of Justice to challenge the ban on pulse fishing. The Court today ruled in favour of maintaining the ban.

Sander Loones: “Flemish fishermen must be able to earn their living fairly”

We must protect our Flemish fishermen more strongly, believes MP Sander Loones. “They have the right to earn their living fairly, but today they are victims of unfair competition with Dutch fishermen. The European ruling is therefore extremely important. The statutory transitional period ends on 1 July 2021, and the ban on electric pulse fishing will apply. So it is a good thing for our Flemish fishermen.”

Cathy Coudyser: “Flemish fishermen contribute to the recovery of fish stocks”

A large part of the Dutch fishing fleet is equipped with this pulse technology. The Dutch have used a loophole in European legislation to this end. “This is how they have succeeded in emptying our Flemish North Sea of fish for several years now,” Flemish MP Cathy Coudyser complains. “Our Flemish fishermen and shipowners have however contributed to the sustainability and recovery of the North Sea stocks in recent years. And with results. It is good that they are now getting that extra support from the European Court.”

How valuable did you find this article?

Enter your personal score here
The average score is