BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s highest court on Thursday backed the bloc’s decision to ban as of July the practice of using electric shocks to stun fish before scooping them up in nets.
The European Court of Justice dismissed a Dutch challenge arguing that the EU didn’t take the latest scientific evidence into account when it took the decision two years ago.
The decision will specifically hit the Dutch fishing fleet, which has invested strongly in electric pulse fishing. They argue the technique is environmentally friendly because it allows trawlers to use far less diesel and doesn’t damage the seabed.
Over 80 of the Dutch fleet’s 137 trawlers are equipped for pulse fishing.
Opponents characterize the method as industrial fishing that is wiping out fish stocks.
“The court dismisses the action brought by the Netherlands in its entirety,” the ECJ said in a statement.
The Dutch fishing federation said the decision will lead to bankruptcies in a sector already hit hard by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because of the ban on pulse fishing, cost will substantially rise. We already see family firms quitting after generations of fishing. More bankruptcies will come,” the federation said.