UKIP calls on all UK MEPs to “show some national unity” in protecting British fishing communities from damaging European Parliament vote on pulse fishing.
UKIP fisheries spokesman, Mike Hookem, has called on all British MEPs to “show some national unity” to defeat EU measures which seek to legitimise and expand the role of electro-pulse fishing in British waters, saying; “now is the time to put national interests above party divides.”
In a letter sent to every British MEP in the European Parliament, Mr Hookem sets out how British fishing communities face oblivion in the face of expanded electro-pulse fishing efforts by Dutch vessels should the latest EU measures be passed by the European Parliament next week.
In his letter, Mr Hookem states, “In my opinion, it is now time to put the national interest above party divides and show some national unity to support the thousands of people struggling to survive in fishing communities up and down the UK.”
Electric pulse fishing is a fishing technique practised by Dutch vessels in British waters, which produces an electrical field while dragging a net to catch the ‘stunned’ fish. However, fishers across Europe have blamed the technique for making the seabed into “a desert” saying, “there is growing evidence that electro-pulse fishing is seriously damaging not only target fish stocks, put the whole ecology of the seabed, with reports of cod being left with broken backs and effects on other ‘bycatch’ species such as sprat and sand eel.”
The fishermen’s statements are backup up by three EU backed reports that state:
• 50-70% of the large cods caught with electricity had their spine broken and internal haemorrhages caused by the electric current
• The survival rate of discarded fish is very low for undersized fishes: only 15% survival for plaice, 29% for sole, and 16% for dab
• That electrical currents may result in a weakened immune system for invertebrates
Yesterday, it emerged that the European Commission had granted ‘experimental’ licences for electro-pulse fishing to go ahead, despite warnings from its own panel of experts to wait for proper science into the long-term effects of the practice.
While this revelation promoted some MEPs on the European Parliament fisheries committee (PECH) to call for a hearing on the matter and the vote to be postponed, this call was rejected by Parliamentary groups include those of both the Labour party and the Conservatives.
“Speaking of the situation, Mr Hookem said, “it is becoming increasingly evident that electro-pulse fishing is greatly damaging to British fish stocks, the ecology, and the British fishing industry as a whole. Therefore, it must be stopped!”
“While I have been campaigning on this matter for many years, most MEPs prefer to bury their heads in the sand and ignore an issue that threatens to wipe out what is left of the small-scale fishing industry in Britain.
“Normal, many British MEP’s will simply do whatever they are told by the EU and their national parties, however, on this issue, I would like to see us unite to make sure we protect not only an industry but a national institution!
“That is why I have invited all MEPs to put aside party divides and vote in the national interest in order to save fishing communities up and down the country who are threatened by the grotesque practice that is electro-pulse fishing.
“Not to do so threatens not just parts of the UK’s coastal economy, but a whole way of life as fishers go out of business due to a lack of their traditional catch.
“Therefore, I am asking all British MEPs to support the amendments I have tabled which call for an end to electro-pulse fishing; for the UK to be removed from the Common Fisheries Policy during any transitional period; and for pulse fishing to be banned in British waters post-Brexit if we fail to secure a Europe-wide ban.
“It is time for all British MEPs to work for the national interest, rather than along party and referendum divides.”