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Monday, 28 April 2014

UK fishermen claim nets used by the Dutch that send out electric shocks are annihilating fish stocks

The sooner this is is investigated the better! - though with the Sunday Times printing the story about only 100 mature cod left in the North Sea a good deal more needs to be revealed as to the validity of the claims being made.

THE Dutch trawler fleet is being blamed by British fishermen for “annihilating” stocks of juvenile Dover sole with a net that sends electric shocks into the sea floor.

The Dutch vessels are allowed to fish 12 miles off the Kent coast, but British crews claim their pioneering electric shock technology is devastating marine life and destroying the fishing grounds. They are urging fisheries officials to investigate.

The electrified nets are designed to give bottom-lying Dover sole a minor shock to move them into the nets. Dutch officials say the method — known as “pulse trawling” — causes less damage to the sea floor and nearby species.

Research has shown the electric nets can kill nearby cod, cracking their vertebrae and causing internal haemorrhaging. Most marine life in the area, however, should not be adversely affected.

British fishermen believe vast numbers of fish are being killed and are meeting Dutch officials to voice their concerns. They are also to send dead fish caught in their nets for laboratory examination. Tom Brown, secretary of Thanet Fishermen’s Association, said his members complained it was like “fishing in a graveyard” after the pulse trawlers had been in the area. “What they don’t catch, they annihilate,” he said. “Virtually everything is dead.”

Jeff Loveland, who owns two fishing boats in Ramsgate, which mainly catch Dover sole and skate, said: “This is absolutely devastating for us because we never caught so many fish that [were] already dead.

“You can have as many as 50 dead Dover sole in an hour and a half. We would hardly ever see a dead fish before.”

The crews believe that repeated exposure to the minor shocks is killing the fish.

Loveland said about seven Dutch trawlers were fishing off the Kent coast using pulse nets. He said: “It is a waste of time going to that area now. It stinks of dead fish.”

Fishing crews in Essex have similar concerns. Roger Free, a fisherman from West Mersea, said many of the dead fish he had pulled up in the area were juveniles. He is convinced the Dutch trawlers are to blame.

Story courtesy of the Sunday Times