Fishermens profits more than halved in one year, outlook uncertain

The Dutch fisheries sector is not doing well. In 2019, the sector made a profit of up to โ‚ฌ20 million. In 2018, it was EUR 48 million. According to figures from Wageningen University. The lower profit is due to lower turnover (234 million in 2019 compared to 305 million in 2018).

2020 does not promise to be much better. The Dutch cutter sector has been hit hard by the corona crisis. As a result of the closure of the catering sector, the price of fish fell sharply. Incidentally, fish prices have been falling since 2018, says Arie Mol, economist and fisheries expert at Wageningen University.

Shrimps and prawns

The shrimp sector is facing additional setbacks. Many Dutch shrimp are peeled in Morocco. As a result of the corona measures, the shrimp peeling capacity there has been considerably reduced. The peeling capacity in Morocco is currently 20 to 25% of what is normal, says Pim Visser, director of VisNed,

The limited peeling capacity and the surplus of shrimp at traders means that fishermen are selling less shrimp. They now only sail for 1.5 or 2 days a week, they dont sell more catch

In 2017, they still received 7.50 euros for a kilo of shrimp; in 2019 this had dropped to 2.90 euros. This was because many more shrimp were caught. Fishermen really talked about an explosion of shrimp, says Mol.

Full cold stores

In 2018, fish became prisoners across the board and traders filled their cold stores. Some traders also rented extra freezing capacity. With hindsight, its easy talk that we should have slowed down. In 2019 we really did, says Visser.

According to Arie Mol, the future is very uncertain. The brexit, the arrival of the wind farms at sea and the declining catch are all factors that do not make things easier for fishermen

Fleet downsizing

Pim Visser is concerned about the shrinking fishing areas at sea as a result of the brexit. The fleet must be reduced, because the number of fishermen and the size of the sea area must remain in balance

According to Visser, this also means that the cutter sector will have to innovate a great deal in the years to come. Especially now that the fishing area will shrink considerably in the coming years, partly due to the construction of wind farms. The Minister wants to make use of European money, but then we will have to wait too long. We want to innovate tomorrow, not a year and a half from now

The director of VisNed does not know whether all fishermen are prepared to innovate. It bothers many fishermen that pulse fishing will be completely abolished on 1 July 2021. On the contrary, many fishermen saw pulse fishing as the ideal innovation, partly because fuel consumption has been reduced. The pulse ban has cut in. It is difficult to get people involved in innovation after this

North Sea agreement

At the beginning of this year, the cabinet, environmental organisations and fishermen discussed a North Sea agreement. This should make room for nature reserves and windmills. The space is still being used by the fishermen.

EUR 119 million would be released by the Cabinet to buy out fishermen who want to quit, and to make the remaining fisheries sustainable. But the fishermen were deeply divided and refused to sign the agreement.

This summer, external explorer Tjibbe Joustra investigated whether the fishermen could still reach an agreement. He is expected to report to the House of Representatives in the next few days.