Ecosystem effects of bottom trawl fisheries are a major concern. We analysed whether the replacement of mechanical stimulation by electrical stimulation may reduce the adverse impacts on the benthic ecosystem in the beam trawl fishery for sole. Although the use of electricity is not allowed to catch fish in European Union waters, a number of beam trawlers got derogation and switched to pulse trawling to explore the potential to reduce impacts. We extended a recently developed assessment framework and showed that the switch to pulse trawling substantially reduced benthic impacts when exploiting the Total Allowable Catch of sole in the North Sea. We applied the framework to Dutch beam trawl logbook data from 2009 to 2017 and estimated that the trawling footprint decreased by 23%; the precautionary impact indicator of the benthic community decreased by 39%; the impact on median longevity decreased by 20%; the impact on benthic biomass decreased by 61%; the amount of sediment mobilised decreased by 39%. The decrease is due to the replacement of tickler chains by electrode arrays, a lower towing speed and higher catch efficiency for sole. The effort and benthic impact of the beam trawl fishery targeting plaice Pleuronectes platessa in the central North Sea increased with the recovery of the plaice stock. This study illustrates the usefulness of a standardized methodological framework to assess the differences in time trends and trawling impact between gears.