Calais port blockade shows “the anger and depth of feeling” over continued use of electro-pulse fishing

Published Jan 25, 2018

UKIP fisheries spokesman slams Labour for voting to hold enquiry into granting of electro-pulse licences in private.

A blockade at the French port of Calais over the use of electro-pulse fishing, “shows the anger and depth of feeling in fishing communities across Europe,” according to UKIP fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP.

Mr Hookem, who works with fishing communities across the British Isles spoke out after French fishers blocked the busy channel link in protest at the continued use of elector-pulse fishing. Electro-pulse has been branded “grotesque” after scientist found it broke the back of cod, and fishermen said it left areas of the seabed “like a desert.”

Electro-pulse fishing is set to be outlawed in Europe following a vote in Strasbourg last week but will continue in the North Sea while negotiations with the European Commission take place.

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Hookem said, “while I don’t condone this type of protest which hits hard working hauliers and travellers alike; the experimental use of electro-pulse fishing has become an increasing contentious issue in fishing communities across Europe.

“While the Dutch companies who employ this method have been getting rich, traditional small-scale fishers have seen vast reductions in their catches and a great deal of ecological damage.

“Fishing communities were further outraged when they discovered the European Commission had ignored its own scientific advisors in granting ‘experimental’ licences for electro-pulse fishing.”

“While a few MEPs on the PECH committee, including myself have called for an investigation into how the European Commission could ignore scientific evidence in such a way, others have been fighting against such a move.

“In fact, only this week, S&D, the Parliamentary grouping the British Labour Party belong to, voted to hold any discussions regarding an investigation behind closed doors.

“Making the process of investigation private only adds weight to accusations that the European Parliament is in no way open and transparent. Fishers across Europe want - and in my opinion have a right - to know why their livelihoods have been damaged, when scientists have expressed concerns over a decade ago.

“The fact is, electro-pulse fishing should be banned from all waters with immediate effect and fishers should be given the answers they demand.

“However, it comes as no shock that Labour continue to chart an anti-fishing course, especially after they voted last week to retain the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) post-Brexit.

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