___A long and controversial debate has been at the center of the European Union discussion in the last years. After years of critics and environmental as well as political skirmishes, pulse fishing has been completely banned in the European seas.

It is maybe handy to summarize the history of this fishing technique.

The bad reputation of pulse fishing has old roots. The technique was banned in 1998 when the European Union stipulated the regulation to protect and preserve fishery resources.

The regulation also provided for an exception that would allow EU countries to experiment with “innovative fishing methods” up to 5% of the annual fishing quota in the North Sea. The Dutch, who had long been routing in favor of this method, accounted for pulse fishing as one of these innovative methods and started to use pulse fishing in the North Sea. The Netherlands has been champion of this fishing technique, so much so that it became the country with the greatest concentration of concessions in the EU.

Intuitively it is easy to condemn this technique and to interpret its effects as irreversibly destructive towards the aquatic environment. This might be considered one of the main factors contributing to the ongoing debate. Serious scientific research on the effects of these fishing techniques are, as a matter of fact, still in the making and will not be available until the end of this year.

The real question is why we continue to intensively exploit our subaquatic resources? On the other hand, if we seek the lesser of two evils, the answer could indie be pulse fishing.

So it reads an article shared on the Stitching Noordzee platform:“[if it ]will be banned completely, so that even further research will no longer be possible. That would be a dreadful waste…”. Stitching Noordzee is the organization entitled with the protection of the health and prosperity of the North Sea.

The bad omen came true. When approaching the northern shores of the country hundreds of disused fishnets can be found laying around on the beach. Multidisciplinary visual artist Maze de Boer (1976, Amsterdam), who has been creating large-scale site-specific and site-responsive installations was inspired by that sight. De Boer participated at this year Oerol festival with a theatrical installation made out of the abandoned pulse fishing nets.

From a high vantage point, you could see boats lying on dry land in the middle of the dunes. Only after a closer inspection, you would be able to recognize the materials utilized. The boats are constructed with disused pulse fishing nets, which refers to the wasteful and mindless misuse that we are making of our subaquatic resources.

Maze de Boer installation refers symbolically to several other water-related issues. In the first instance, desertification; the boats are stranded among the dunes, there where no boat should be. The second point that de Boer’s work highlights is the rising sea level: the boats, an aquatic symbol, placed in the middle of the dunes, can signify how the dunes themselves (and dry land in general) will soon be devoured by the rising sea levels and will become a suitable place for boats and other aquatic elements. Finally, the installation plays with the horizon of expectation of the spectator, on the category of appearing and being. From a distance the viewer could spot a shape look-alike of a boat, only getting closer the real nature of the objects to become discernable.

Maze de Boer work captures the viewer and transports him along a journey of research and understanding, that is highlighted as the only way to get to real knowledge. It is to be hoped that the effort to seek innovative and less invasive methods for fishing in the North Sea will continue.

 

 

Written by Stephanie Busuito