Examination of Witness

Part of Fisheries Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:29 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Aaron Brown:

Absolutely. We feel it should be banned outright immediately. You could put a sub-clause in that says it should be banned until it is proved that it is not responsible for the environmental degradation that has been reported by fishermen all around the southern North sea, where the derogation has happened. I certainly do not think anyone could say that the Dutch, who are primarily responsible for this, have not taken the Michael—that’s the polite word. It started as a derogation against the ban on electric fishing that the European Commission itself got—let us remember that it was a derogation against the EU’s own scientific advice—for a trial of the method. That trial has gone on for 10 years and has 100 boats on it. That is a commercial fishery masquerading as a trial. Even the Dutch now hold their hands up to that. We would like to see that banned.

We would also like to see sandeel fishing banned in the central North sea. For years and years, that has taken away a key component of the food chain—the base of the food chain—for sea birds, fish and obviously fishermen. Neither method—pulse fishing or sandeel fishing—is of benefit to any UK vessels, and with sandeel fishing you have the double dunt that the sandeels are taken for pig feed, so the British bacon industry could see a competitor’s food costs go up.

There would be a massive environmental gain if we banned both practices. That would not affect any British industry. I am actually very surprised that a Government who extol their environmental credentials with plastic cups and wars on wet wipes have not taken the easy win of banning pulse fishing.