Dutch officials at the Ministry of Agriculture deliberately consciously conveyed information from the European Commission‘s summit and whipped with math sums to allow as many fishermen as possible to pulse fish. This is evidenced by documents DecceIT received following an appeal to the Public Administration Act (WOB).
The Ministry discloses only part of the documents about the Dutch pulse fish lobby in Brussels, another part remains secret. If one of the statements is made that disclosure could still lead to European criminal proceedings.
The published sections of the documents requested show for the first time in black and white how the Ministry tried to deceive Brussels and other EU countries to obtain as many pulse fishing permits as possible. Dutch officials emailed each other that their methods were not legal and “dubious”, but were instructed to keep it from the European Commission and the Ministry’s political summit.
result, the Netherlands managed to fish a quarter of its total fleet (84 ships) with pulse technology, while Brussels originally wanted to authorize only 5 percent (22 ships at most). This permit allowed these fishermen to ‘electric fish’, which allowed them to fish more efficiently than many of their European colleagues.
Visser Jurie Post from Urk has not been allowed pulse fishing for two years, but he keeps his equipment:
Some of the officials warned that this strategy could eventually turn against the Netherlands. They got right. From France and the European Parliament there was so much resistance against the Dutch pulse fishermen that the European Union decided to ban pulse fish three years ago. That ban goes into force at noon tonight.
The documents revealed that officials were experiencing heavy pressure from the House of Representatives and the fisheries sector to obtain as many pulse fishing permits as possible. The fisheries sector was in severe weather and therefore fishermen had to be “supported in every way possible”, one of the officials wrote.
‘Dealing with as little attention as possible’
Permission from Brussels was required to grant the permits. The official summit estimated that if the European Commission summit was not fully informed, the chances of that consent would be greatest. “It is important that these questions are handled with as little attention as possible.”
It also creates arithmetic sums that have little to do with reality. The Netherlands pretended to be 42 ships representing about 5 percent of the fleet, while officials knew it was 12.5 percent in reality. Then that number of 42 ships is doubled again, according to one of the officials, “doubling an already very dubious number”.
Some of the documents requested will not be released, as it would jeopardize the relations of the Netherlands with other states and with international organisations. “I believe that this importance should outweigh the importance of publicity, as disclosure could damage the Netherlands‘s international position in the pulse file,” says the Ministry’s cover letter.
A Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson points out that the large amount of permits granted for pulse fishing has backproductive to get the pulse ban off the table. “It‘s also not good that internal signals, which were there, were not sufficiently picked up. All of that turned against us.”
The Ministry wants to “enter into early” the conversation with the European Commission and Member States in order to implement innovations in fisheries. “Achieving sustainable fishing targets is of great importance not only in the Netherlands, but across the EU. It’s important to look forward now with the lessons learned in hand, and continue to make fishing more sustainable.”