Examination of Witness

Part of Fisheries Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 6th December 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Dr Carl O'Brien:

It came to a conclusion that there was not a conclusion. ICES held a number of working groups that reviewed the evidence. It was not conclusive that pulse trawling is detrimental because there are positive benefits from having a pulse trawl. There is anecdotal information from our own industry that at certain times of year, you find cod with broken backs. That is certainly so for the Thames estuary, and it could be the impact of pulse trawling. Talking to some of the food producers who deal with chickens, one of the reasons for not electrocuting chickens is that you break their backs when they go into spasms. That is exactly what would happen to a cod; it would also break its own back.

I think the answer to your question is that until you actually have the evidence and it is conclusive that you should ban a method, it is quite difficult to ban it. The Commission has gone out of its way to allow scientists to collect the evidence. The slightly surprising thing is that I was around when ICES gave its original advice, which was for 10 or 12 vessels as a scientific trial. It is now about 100 vessels, and that clearly is not a scientific trial. I think you have to be very clear about the parameters are when you give dispensations for gears.