The pulse trawl is a fishing gear that uses electrical pulses to catch target species such as sole and shrimp. The pulse trawl is considered by ICES and STECF to be a more sustainable alternative to the traditional beam trawl due to reduced fuel consumption, higher selectivity for sole and reduced bottom impact. In contrast to the conventional beam trawl which uses tickler chains to mechanically stimulate target species from the seabed, the pulse trawl consists of a beam (or wing) fixed with rubber-coated cables containing electrodes. These electrodes produce short electrical pulses to electrically stimulate target species from the seabed. Since its commercial application research efforts on pulse have increased, spurred by concerns among other fishermen, NGOs and EU member state representatives about the impact of the gear.
Past, present and future research focus on the mechanical disturbance caused by the pulse trawl, the electrical effects on marine species and the marine ecosystem and the catch efficiency and selectivity of the pulse trawl. A large-scale multi-faceted research programme commissioned by the Dutch Government focuses on the results from extensive research so far that the transition from mechanical stimulation (beam trawl) to electrical stimulation (pulse trawl) will significantly reduce ecosystem effects of fishing. The meeting will provide the opportunity to hear from the scientists about 1) the pulse technique, 2) the research programme and 3) the control and enforcement arrangements. This will be followed by an exchange of views with the Commission, MEPs and the various stakeholders.