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Monday, 27 November 2017

Dutch stun trawlers destroying UK fishing grounds - protest today

This story illustrates three problems, all of which should be solved by Brexit. However, Brexit won't fix the very real problem being experienced right now by coastal day-fishermen - that fishing grounds close to Britain's coast are being sterilised, destroyed, by large Dutch boats using forbidden electro stun methods over which we have no control.

The Netherlands has a well developed and large scale fishing industry out of all proportion to the size of her own economic waters. Its success depends on taking fish from the waters of other EU states.

The Dutch also invest heavily in new, big boats - and have no difficulty in getting finance for new boats or converting existing boats to stun technology - at about £300k per boat. Three quarters of the UK fishing fleet are small (typically 8m) inshore boats. Dutch boats take both groundfish and semi-pelagic species - sole, cod, squid, shrimp, rockfish - that abound in the warm shallow waters of the continental shelf. They have traditionally used bottom trawls - chains, beams or steel balls that scrape the seabed, stirring up sediment and channelling the catch into the following net.

However, there are two problems with this. One is that the boat's engine power must be used to drag the beams and shoes, or rock-hopper otter-trawls, over the seabed. The other is that the North Sea and the British coast are heavy with shipwrecks, many torpedoed in two wars, sunken warships or just casualties of the sea. As we hobby sea fishers know, wrecks are a rich haven for big fish because bottom trawlers can't come near them.  

Pulse or stun fishing uses suspended electrodes to stun groundfish into the water column where they are scooped up by trawl nets. Catch volumes are greater, fuel costs are halved and the marine sanctuaries around wrecks are no longer protected. It's like fishing a lake using gelignite. It was outlawed in the EU in 1998. But the EU is deeply corrupt and open to the influence of wealthy actors; in 2009 the EU allowed 5% of beam trawlers to be converted, and the Dutch immediately converted five boats. Since then almost a hundred more Dutch boats have been converted - using a weak and contrived workaround that avoids the ban.

The effects are catastrophic. An inshore fisherman last week posted on FB 
"It is widely believed that thousands of immature fish are dying as a result of this electric shock being passed through them but no evidence has been put forward to support this. The reasons for this are very simple, the majority of immature fish will just get washed through the net never to be seen again. The other reason being the fact that the only research being carried out is by the Dutch themselves and everybody knows that money talks.

"Even if it was proved that this method of fishing was not killing all the immature fish, it is highly likely to be killing all the food that the fish rely on to survive such as prawns, shrimps, small crab, worms. If it was proved that it did not damage these species it would for sure kill the even smaller marine life that they rely on.

"I know from experience that once the seabed has been subjected to the electric shock treatment there is no point in me fishing there. I might as well fish in the desert because I would have more chance of finding life. Even when left alone for several months there is nothing there. To me it is pretty obvious why, nothing is going to hang around in a place where they will starve.

"The Inshore Belgian fishermen are appalled by what the Dutch are doing, Belgian fishermen I have spoken to have never in their lives at sea seen such a drastic reduction in fish numbers as they have once an area has had pulse fishing activity on it. It is the same story in France, the catches there have reduced so much that they plan to blockade all the Channel Ferry ports on the 27th of November to highlight the problems being caused by the Dutch."
One current problem is that Dutch boats can fly the red duster and take UK quotas; the previous requirement on UK flagged vessels being owned by Brit nationals was overturned. Our 1988 Merchant Shipping Act was challenged by the European Court of Justice in the Factortame case and overturned - requiring us to register foreign-owned fishing boats.  A single Dutch owned and crewed vessel, the Cornelis Vrolijk, but UK flagged, accounts for almost a quarter of the entire English catch and about 6 per cent of the total UK quota. It lands all catches - some £17m annually - in the Netherlands.

So a plea. If you are delayed in any way today by the French fishing boats blockading the channel ports, spare them your good wishes and your hopes for a prosperous year. They are fighting the same fight as our inshore boats. This time, we're on the same side.


DeeDee99 said...

God, how I loathe the EU. All their rules, regulations and their tame puppet court seem designed to destroy everything they touch.

You won't hear a word about this in the MSM though: according to the BBC and Sky, the seas are being destroyed by people buying fizz in a plastic bottle.

Anonymous said...

Nigel Farage spent a good deal of his LBC show talking about the CFP, along with the pulse fishing method. He also went out on a 10m boat from Ramsgate and chatted with the skipper about the conditions. He had a chap in the studio who represents commercial fishermen, and f course some knowledgable callers.

The feeling is that our government is just about to renege on the part of brexit that caused many people to get on that bandwagon in the first place. The lies of the traitor heath, the evil manner in which the politicians from both the UK and the EU have have not just sanctioned, but forced the fishermen to throw away good fish and the evidence from the Canadians (for a start) that fishermen are MUCH better at managing their waters than politicians. It is in their interests to maintain good stocks after all.

I also suspect that following the antics of that geldoff cnut on the Thames just before the referendum played a good part in swinging the result.

Whilst I can see a small amount of merit in maybots "grate breckshit bill", I cannot see ANY reason why the fishermen should even be a part of that; they should get back our territorial waters on the day that article 50 expires.


Anonymous said...

Yes I forgot to mention, something that I have not yet heard about pulse fishing... Do the Cloggies do it in their own waters? Or is this just because they are getting something for nothing and a gift horse is one whose teeth do not need examination, but rather a thorough ransacking?


Poisonedchalice said...

Not one word of this in The Times today.

jack ketch said...

I have to say this (if true-I did just check the date wasn't 01.04.18 ) does seem somewhat shortsighted of the Dutch (shurely the Dutch Green Party is screaming blue murder?). A bit 'kill the golden goose'.

I don't know the ins and outs of this but I'd guess that if the really wanted to they could have stopped the use of e-fishing in our waters. Tends to be the way of such things ie another EU 'Horror Story' that on closer inspection reveals it is a actually something the government is responsible for/signed up to/could stop anytime they liked. A fact Brexshiteurs forget all too often is that the EU has almost zero possibilities to enforce it's will on/to sanction sovereign member Poland and Hungary have both recently proved.

And if those sneaky Dutch boats are flying the UK snotrag then, say, any boarding of them becomes is an internal UK law enforcement matter does it not?

Raedwald said...

Jack - your cynicism is admirable but if you'd spent as much time researching the facts as typing your post you'd find, as I did, a comprehensive spsn of scholarly and academic evidence supporting the dangers of electric pulse fishing. Including the Chinese who pretty well destroyed their own shrimp stocks before they banned it.

No, the UK government does not have a veto of EU actions any more. These waters are not even ours to manage - we've given that right away to the EU, who make their own fish management decisions as part of the CFP. UK delegates to the various committees can voice an opinion of course - and it's as valid as opinions voiced by delegates from Malta, Luxembourg or Estonia.

Yes, 84 Dutch flagged boats and 12 UK flagged boats - an unknown number of which are Dutch - are fitted with the stunning gear. Yes, UK MCA / DEFRA can board UK flagged ships but for what breach? They are permitted by the EU to use the technology in EU waters, and that won't change until 2019 when we take back control.

jack ketch said...

"No, the UK government does not have a veto of EU actions any more"
Did I say it did? But the thing about being a sovereign nation in a political union is there is always a 'get out' or 'emergency' clause (for want of a better phrase) in any Treaty or Agreement.

It isn't that the UK is no longer a sovereign nation due to the EU, rather the UK has forgotten how due to our own Politicians. If PMT.May decided tomorrow that e-fishing boats pose a threat to, for example, "national security" (a more rubber phrase you will not find) and has all british flagged boats confiscated at gun point, there is no power on Earth -let alone on the continent- that can stop her.

English Pensioner said...

This is what angers me about our governments and the EU. Our government and Civil Service not only obey every last detail of any EU directive, indeed they gold plate them with additional rules, whilst every other country blatantly ignores many of the directives.
Typical was when France started to send the Roma home, the EU mandarins said it was against the rules, and France ignored them. They were threatened with the EU court and again ignored. So a committee was set up to look at the problem and that was the end of the matter, France still continues to deport the Roma.
If only we had the same attitude towards the EU.

Cascadian said...

And why is this happening? Simply, the RN is ineffectual, looking at their website there are four patrol vessels, digging down further, one is in the Atlantic, another "at sea" and two alongside. Summarizing, there is actually one fishery vessel available-about par for the RN, and even that vessel could be called upon should the Russians decide to traverse the North Sea. So once again the politicians are lying to you, effectively there is NO inshore fishery patrol, the Dutch surely know this and will continue to do whatever they damn well please.

A government that truly wished to Brexit would have had a fully funded budget for an inshore patrol vessel fleet,(amongst other necessary requirements) and tenders ready to start construction.

This government is incapable of Brexit.

Budgie said...

Jack Ketch said: "It isn't that the UK is no longer a sovereign nation due to the EU, . . ." Actually the UK is no longer a sovereign nation. Declaration 17 (ex Lisbon) states that EU law has primacy over member states (UK) law.

The UK has therefore lost sovereignty to the EU for all EU "competences", and any extensions thereof in the future. The UK retains sovereignty only where the EU chooses not to extend its own competences.

Anonymous said...

Is there a link for a petition email sight as I and many more people I know would be only to pleased to sight this as it is a barbaric way of fishing and ruining the sea beds which have been such a rich source of food but will soon be totally destroyed