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French Fishermen Protest Electric Pulse Fishing

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AFP / PHILIPPE HUGUEN

French fishermen on Thursday blocked the port of Calais in protest of losses caused by pulse fishing in the North Sea.

The blockade, on one of Europe’s busiest shipping routes, caused a large back up of traffic.

The fishermen parked trawlers, causing delays for travellers and hauliers on the other side of the Channel.

“The Port of Calais is closed due to the French fisherman blockade. Currently, no ships movements in the port,” British ferry company P&O tweeted.

Pulse fishing involves fitting nets with electrodes and pulling them above the seabed. The electric current sends shocks through the sediment, forcing the fish up out of the sand into the trawler’s nets.

The method is widely used by Dutch vessels fishing for sole, raising the hackles of the French, who say it harms fish stocks, even though less than one percent of European trawlers use it.

“The Dutch have wrecked the sea. There are no more fish,” said Christian Dubois, the Calais-based representative of a fishing industry body.

A spokeswoman for P&O said two car ferries were waiting in the English port of Dover to cross and two others were stuck in Calais.

Danish shipping company DFDS, which also runs ferries between France and Britain, said two of its vessels were delayed in Dover and one in Calais.

The fishermen eventually accepted to allow one ferry through towards England every hour, a source in the port authority said.

P&O was directing some customers towards the Channel tunnel while DFDS was rerouting some of its ferries through the French port of Dunkirk, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of Calais.

The fishermen also denied ships access to Boulogne-sur-Mer, France’s biggest fishing port, about 30 kilometres southwest of Calais.

The French push for a ban of pulse fishing received a boost earlier this month when the European Parliament voted in favour of outlawing the practice.

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