George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, recently addressed this issue in Parliament. You can watch the Minister address the House about the Dutch fleets here, and about pulse fishing as a technique more generally here.
The Dutch fleet and government have sought to expand the use of this novel fishing technique as part of their efforts to determine whether it can be used sustainably. Based on their results the EU will next year make a final determination on whether the practice will be allowed to continue. In addition to this, earlier this year George Eustice MP asked the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) to review the science on pulse trawling. The evidence so far indicates that while the impact on the seabed is typically smaller than for traditional beam trawling, there are some detrimental effects on fish species such as cod. Once CEFAS has completed its work, we will review the findings and decide what steps are required next.
As you may be aware, following the vote to leave the EU the UK will be withdrawing from the Common Fisheries Policy. This is a positive development, because the CFP has had a profound impact both on the UK's coastal communities and on the sustainability of fish stocks. Since 2010 the UK has led reforms, but 40 per cent of fish stocks in the Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea are still being fished at unsustainable levels.
By leaving the CFP, taking back control of our territorial waters, granting access to other countries and allocating quotas all on the basis of what is scientifically sustainable, we can set and follow the very highest standards in marine conservation whilst supporting the revival of our coastal communities. With UK control of waters in our exclusive economic zone not only can we husband fish stocks more wisely, but we can also ensure that we allow our fishing industry to grow sustainably in the future. Outside the EU, as an independent coastal state, we can be home to world class fishing fleets as well as proving ourselves environmental leaders.