In a joint letter to Minister Staghouwer , the Dutch fishing organisations VisNed, the Nederlandse Vissersbond and the PO Delta South have asked for support measures for the ailing fleet.
The letter tell the Minister that problems keep piling up (including Brexit, wind farms, nitrogen) but the sharply increased fuel prices as a result of the war in Ukraine have now completely throwing the cutter fishermen out of balance. No one knows how long it will take for the oil price to bounce back to normal levels. It is certain that the cutter fleet will go under without government support.
Support measures needed
A gas oil price of € 0.45/litre was long regarded as the average turning point at which profit turns into loss for a cutter. At the moment, the gas oil price is around € 0.80/litre. This means that all cutters are at a loss, some more than others. Yet the cutters go to sea and that is not out of luxury. No fishing trip means no income for the crew. No fishing company can sustain that way. In the cutter fishing chain, the parties have agreed on a fuel price surcharge for a maximum of four weeks out of necessity and in the absence of government support. In this way, the fishermen are somewhat compensated for the high gas oil price, but that does not offer a long-term solution.
The trade can only pass on the surcharge to the customer for a limited time, until it decides to switch to cheaper alternatives. In the short term, the cutter organizations are therefore calling on the government for support measures, which are made possible by the launch of the European Union crisis support package. Up to € 35,000 can be accepted per fishing company deminimis aid is provided by the Member States. In the longer term, the cutter fleet will have to be less dependent on fossil fuels, and government support is desperately needed for this too. A good step in the right direction could be the reintroduction of pulse fishing. Subsequently (financial) support to boost innovation in the propulsion of fishing vessels and to take the step towards new low-emission fishing vessels.
EU crisis support package
The European Commission launched a crisis support package last week . With this step, Brussels wants to meet the fishing industry, which is suffering from the high fuel prices as a result of the war in Ukraine. This concerns two measures that have been supported by the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) can be used by Member States, namely:
- Financial support to entrepreneurs in fisheries, aquaculture and processing for the additional costs they incur due to market disruption and high energy costs as long as these are linked to the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
- Financial support to POs that use the storage mechanism to keep prices at an acceptable level. These are temporary measures that apply retroactively from 24 February to the end of 2022. A fishing company can receive up to a maximum of € 35,000 in deminimis aid from its Member State. For other sectors, this has been increased to € 400,000. The European interest groups Europêche and EAPO, to which the Nederlandse Vissersbond/PO Delta Zuid are also affiliated.