Agreement to double pulse trawl licences
Dutch fishermen waiting for a pulse trawl licence will soon be able to put out to sea. The doubling of extra licenses for fisheries using the sustainable pulse trawl technique has been achieved on the basis of a national programme. Dutch Minister for Agriculture Sharon Dijksma announced the development in a letter to the House of Representatives. In January the Netherlands received an unpleasant surprise from the European Parliament when it was informed that the additional licenses previously agreed upon would not be granted, while Dutch fishermen had already made considerable investments. With the approval of the European Commissioner Damanaki for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Minister Dijksma will undertake an extensive pilot programme into the pulse trawl technique, and as a result 42 extra cutters may use the pulse trawl to catch flatfish.
"This is great news for our fishermen. They can finally put out to sea," the Minister said. "It is also a victory for making the sector even more sustainable. The use of the pulse trawl for catching flatfish leaves the seabed intact and halves fuel requirements. We want to use the results of the study to convince other countries that the pulse trawl is the sustainable fishing method of the future."
The European Commission’s approval means that the Netherlands can now implement a major pilot study to demonstrate how the pulse trawl works. Forty-two additional licences will be granted to Dutch fisheries. The study will be carried out with the help of IMARES (Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies), part of Wageningen University and Research Centre. The programme studies the selectivity of the pulse trawl and the environmental benefits of leaving the seabed undamaged and reducing fuel consumption by half. Both fisheries and environmental organisations will be involved in the study.
The new Common Fisheries Policy stimulates the use of new fishing methods. The Netherlands was already able to equip 42 vessels in the fleet with pulse trawls. Additional licences were agreed upon in 2012 in the Fisheries Council. The approval of these licences was to be included in fisheries regulations by the European Parliament. To the dismay of the Netherlands, this did not happen. After this news Minister Dijksma immediately travelled to Athens to negotiate with the Greek Minister for Fisheries and current President of the EU Fisheries Council Athanasios Tsaftaris and to emphasize the importance of these additional licences. Minister Dijksma then discussed the issue with Euro Commissioner Damanaki. The European Commission has always supported the Netherlands in developing this innovative fishing method.
Pulse trawl method
The pulse trawl is a sustainable and innovative fishing method that makes it easier to catch flatfish by using an electrical current to startle them from the seabed and into the nets. Compared to traditional trawling methods, this technique reduces damage to the seabed and better ensures conservation of marine ecology. In addition, this technique substantially reduces fuel consumption by flatfish trawlers.