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Campaigners unite at protest over electric pulse fishing

PUBLISHED: 14:46 18 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:05 18 June 2018

The stop electric fishing in Europe protest at Lowestoft fish market. Picture: Mick Howes

The stop electric fishing in Europe protest at Lowestoft fish market. Picture: Mick Howes

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It’s a practice that is said to be damaging the ocean, depleting fish stocks and destroying jobs.

The stop electric fishing in Europe protest at Lowestoft fish market. Paul Lines and June Mummery. Picture: Mick HowesThe stop electric fishing in Europe protest at Lowestoft fish market. Paul Lines and June Mummery. Picture: Mick Howes

Campaigners were united as calls were made for an immediate ban on electric pulse fishing in the North Sea as protests were held at numerous ports across the European Union today.

Fishermen and campaigners joined forces as a protest was held at Lowestoft fish market – alongside days of action in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands – against the technique that is used by some Dutch fishing vessels off the coastline.

The stop electric fishing in Europe protest at Lowestoft fish market. Waveney MP Peter Aldous. Picture: Mick HowesThe stop electric fishing in Europe protest at Lowestoft fish market. Waveney MP Peter Aldous. Picture: Mick Howes

Although pulse trawling is banned across Europe, a legal loophole has seen the Dutch fishermen successful in getting the restrictions on pulse trawling eased. With a long-running campaign calling for the contentious issue to be banned – which involves the use of electrodes attached to nets – it is claimed that the action is depleting fish stocks and damaging the ocean as the fish are driven towards the nets by the signals in the water.

The Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance (LFMA), which was formed to revitalise the town’s fishing economy, have been calling for the “abhorrent method” to be permanently banned as they look to restore the fish market back to its former glory.

The stop electric fishing in Europe protest at Lowestoft fish market. Picture: Mick HowesThe stop electric fishing in Europe protest at Lowestoft fish market. Picture: Mick Howes

Lowestoft fisherman and LFMA chairman Paul Lines and June Mummery, managing director of BFP Eastern, which runs Lowestoft fish market, oversaw the protest.

Mr Lines, who joined various European campaigners earlier this year to lobby MEPs at parliamentary sessions in Brussels and Strasbourg ahead of a vote on whether to outlaw pulse fishing, said: “Today is a pan-European protest against electric fishing in the North Sea with calls to stop this abhorrent method. We need to let Lowestoft rejuvenate as a fishing port and this process needs to be stopped now or we will never rebuild the industry.”

The stop electric fishing in Europe protest at Lowestoft fish market. Picture: Mick HowesThe stop electric fishing in Europe protest at Lowestoft fish market. Picture: Mick Howes

Mrs Mummery, vice chairman of LFMA, said: “I am really pleased with the turnout and extremely pleased that Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Suffolk County councillor Melanie Vigo di Gallidoro have attended. Electric pulse fishing is killing the North Sea.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: “Local fishermen have come together in some force to urge for a ban on electric pulse fishing by Dutch vessels off the East Anglian coast. From my perspective I have got the message very loud and clear which I will be taking back to government for this practice, which has a devastating impact on fish stocks and in turn on peoples livelihoods, to be stopped immediately.”

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