Both France and Belgium have pre-empted the phasing out of electric fishing in the North Sea by introducing prohibitions on electric fishing in their national waters.
In France the ban took effect on 14th of August, following an order by the prefecture of Normandy, as the Normandy Region has jurisdiction over France’s waters in the eastern Channel up to the border with Belgium.
Pulse fishing is currently being phased out in stages, with the method to have been fully taken out of use by 30th June 2021 in all European waters.
European law entitles member states to take their own measures on electrical fishing, and according to the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the decision was taken to implement a ban on electric fishing on account of the risks this method entails for the environment and marine stocks.
The Ministry states that while no French vessels have been using pulse fishing gear, vessels from other Member States have access to French waters between 6 and 12 miles, therefore the step was taken to prohibit pulse fishing in national waters, out to the 12-mile limit, and Belgium has taken a similar step to keep electrical fishing out of its 12-mile zone.