European Parliament supports amendments that will see “grotesque” fishing method outlawed, but only UKIP serious about leaving the CFP with Labour voting against leaving and Tories abstaining.
UKIP fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem MEP, has welcomed moves to ban the “grotesque” electro-pulse fishing method in Europe, saying the decision was “right for the ecology; right for the environment; and right for fishing communities across the UK.”
Mr Hookem’s comments came following a European Parliament vote on new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) technical measures. Mr Hookem has for many months been at the forefront of a protracted campaign to ban electro-pulse technique, which British fishers claim had “decimated” areas of North Sea fishing grounds.
The electro-pulse fishing technique – practiced by mainly Dutch vessels in British waters – produces an electrical field on the seabed while dragging a net to catch ‘stunned’ fish which rise towards the surface.
However, fishers across Northern Europe have blamed serious damage to the marine ecology on the electro-pulse method; saying, there is growing scientific and empirical evidence that electro-pulse fishing is damaging target fish stocks and the ecology of the seabed. The technique is already banned in China, Brazil and the USA.
Speaking in the wake of the vote, Mr Hookem said he wanted to “congratulate all those who had worked so hard to raise awareness of this critical issue, especially Norfolk fishing skipper, Paul Lines, who had gone above and beyond.” Mr Lines had previously said that areas of the seabed off the Norfolk coast had become “a desert” due to electro-pulse fishing.
Continuing, Mr Hookem said:
“Electro-pulse fishing threatened the very existence of many small-scale fishers working off the UK’s South-East coast, so this is a considerable victory. The campaign to stop pulse fishing had seen a great deal of resistance from richly-resourced Dutch groups with a vested interest; however, common sense has overcome sheer greed, and the vote to end the grotesque practice is very welcome. However, I was shocked to learn that the SNP MEPs supported the continued use of electro-pulse fishing and that Conservative MEPs declined to stop it by mostly abstaining. I was also surprised that Labour MEPs support Britain’s continued adherence to the CFP on Brexit!
“This goes to prove that while we have won the battle on electro-pulse fishing, the war to reclaim the UK’s fishing rights continues unabated.
“However, I was very disappointed that more British MEPs did not support my motion to make sure that the CFP would no longer apply to the UK during any transition period; with Labour MEP’s voting against removing the UK from the CFP on Brexit and the Tories abstaining on this also.
“To me, to keep the UK in the CFP post-Brexit is a betrayal of Labour principles to support the working men and women of Britain. But I guess in the case of fishers; Labour put their allegiance to the EU above that of their core beliefs. As for the Tories, I think that their abstention goes to prove they have no intention of ‘reclaiming UK fishing grounds’ as Michael Gove stated.
“This vote also goes to prove only UKIP fully support the British fishing industry. The only way to ensure that Britain can administer and control its waters humanely and sustainably is to make sure it’s not gift-wrapped and given to the EU as part of any transitional deal.
“Therefore, I would ask everyone to sign my petition to remove the fishing industry from Theresa ‘the Appeaser’s’ Great Repeal Bill and reclaim our waters in March 2019.”
Readers can see the petition to stop electro-pulse fishing here.
Pulse fishing ban: Breakdown of voting for British MEPs
(Total voting numbers) 402 +, 232 -, 40 O
Voted for a ban:
UK Green greens & PC
ECR MEPs’ Flack, Girling, McIntyre, Swinburne
Hudghton, Smith, SNP
As did the rest of ECR UK
(SNP support pulse fishing, most Tories decline to stop it)
Mato Am 271 EFDD – Pulse prohibition post Brexit
(Total voting numbers) 109 +, 486 -, 74 O
Voted For a ban post-Brexit
UK S&D (Labour)
Bearder, UK ECR (LD)
Mato Am 358 EFDD to end CFP on Brexit
(Total voting numbers) 57 +, 545 -, 71 O
Voted for the UK to leave the CFP on Brexit
UK EFDD (UKIP)
UK S&D (Labour), UK Green greens
O UK ECR Tories, SNP, PC, LD