BRUSSELS — The European Union reached a tentative deal to ban as of mid-2021 the practice of using electric shocks to stun fish before scooping them up in nets.

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.

Opponents characterize the method as industrial fishing that is wiping out fish stocks.

The deal says the July 1, 2021, deadline should give the Dutch fleet enough time to adapt. Nearly 80 of the Dutch fleet’s 137 trawlers are equipped for pulse fishing.

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