pfa reaction pelagic 2023 PFA members are fishing high-quality herring in the English Channel this December

PFA members are fishing high-quality herring in the English Channel this December

The Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA) says that its members are fishing high-quality herring in the English Channel.

The PFA, whose members include some of the largest fishing companies in the world including Parlevliet & Van der Plas Group and the Cornelis Vrolijk fishing companies in the Netherlands own the largest factory ships fishing in European waters.

PFA members specialise in fishing pelagic fish such as herring, (horse) mackerel and blue whiting. These pelagic species constitute a huge biomass and the shoals of fish can be as big as the island of Malta.

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The PFA says that many independent studies have given evidence that the carbon footprint of pelagic fisheries is the lowest of all forms of animal protein production.

They say:

“Because pelagic fish migrate through the water column (away from the seabed) in huge, homogeneous shoals, vessels from PFA members can fish very selectively, using high-tech equipment such as sonar. As a result, by-catch levels are no more than around 1%.

“Pelagic freezer-trawlers of PFA members are larger than most other pelagic trawlers and are almost unique for our processing and freezing space onboard, which makes up around 70% of the vessel’s size. This allows for longer fishing trips and less fuel consumption from returning to port.

“In pelagic fishing, it is an economic necessity to apply economies of scale due to the very large volumes of fish involved and tough international competition in the seafood market. As always, PFA members are committed to fishing these large volumes within the applicable quota, which are based on a very solid scientific basis.”

pfa fishing herring channel

Some of the PFA supertrawlers working in the English Channel. Image: Marine Traffic

Pelagic fish are seasonally abundant in specific areas. Therefore, specific species are better fished on specific fishing grounds and in specific months of the year. December is the season for the MSC-certified North Sea herring’s population in the English Channel. Its quality is now optimal.

Herring is very healthy because it contains high-quality proteins, vitamins and minerals, along with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are an essential part of a healthy diet. In addition, this herring from PFA members is very affordable. Around 90 percent of all our fish is destined for markets outside Europe, especially African countries where food security is not always certain.

Several freezer-trawlers from PFA members will be fishing in the English Channel these weeks and they have moved to dispel the public’s concern over them saying that despite some claims that large vessels or “supertrawlers” are less sustainable than smaller vessels, they like to continue to tell the factual story about their vessels:

  • Not the size of the vessel, but scientifically derived quotas determine how much freezer-trawlers can fish.
  • Our fishing operations are within the allocated quotas.
  • Pelagic fishing is not in competition with small scale fishers. It’s only a different speciality which focuses on almost entirely different stocks, different fishing grounds and different markets.”

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