Dutch electric fishing

Question

What is the Commission’s view on electric fishing by Dutch trawlers inside North Sea special areas of conservation, particularly the Haisborough, Hammond and Winterton SAC and the North Norfolk SAC? Does it agree that such activity is in breach of Article 6 of the Habitats Directive?

Answer

The effects of fishing with trawls towed above the sea bed, including pulse trawls, on marine special areas of conservation depend on local circumstances such as the sensitivity of the habitats and species for which the areas have been designated and the frequency and extent to which the methods are applied.

In accordance with Article 6 of the Habitats Directive it is the responsibility of the Member States to take appropriate steps to avoid the deterioration of natural habitats and the habitats of species, as well as disturbance of the species in areas that have been designated as special areas of conservation. The necessary conservation measures which correspond to the ecological requirements of the natural habitats and the species present on the sites should also be established. Such measures should inter alia address any known threats and pressures to which protected species and habitats on the sites may be exposed.

The Commission is not in receipt of any specific information concerning the impact of the activity mentioned by the honourable Member on special areas of conservation in the North Sea. It cannot therefore say whether the activity infringes or not Article 6 of the Habitats Directive.

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