Dutch fishermen blocked harbours in the Netherlands today in protest at soaring fuel prices and over the marine spatial squeeze. Photo: EMK

Dutch fishermen blocked harbours in the Netherlands today in protest at soaring fuel prices and over the marine spatial squeeze. Photo: EMK

Dutch fishermen blocked harbours in the Netherlands today in protest at soaring fuel prices and over the spatial squeeze resulting from offshore energy developments and marine protected areas.

The protest had been organised under “Eendracht maakt Kracht,” (EMK), which translates to “Unity Makes Strength,” also announced protests in locations, such as Lauwersoog harbour, IJmuiden and Den Helder.

Approximately 70 fishing vessels took part in the blockades which coincided with a Dutch farmers protest that blocked multiple supermarket distribution centres across the country.

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The EMK said today, “Fishermen are, among other things, furious about the notion of Dutch support for tower-high fuel prices, the completion of the sea with wind farms and the lock down with ‘sea reserves’. Fishing companies are falling apart.

“The government’s Nitrogen policy for our coastal fishermen is as bizarre as it is for farmers. No shrimp fisherman has money for new-emission-free engines in 2023. In addition, the complete nitrogen model for drift sand fishing relies on, expert Han Lindeboom already showed.

“Stop with the madness!”

“Coastal fishermen are also experiencing a nitrogen shortage scenario. The high fuel prices make fishing unprofitable, and the Netherlands does nothing about that,” Southern-Dutch fisherman Robin Dekker tell the EMK.

The protest started on yesterday evening, Sunday 03 July with shrimp boats blocking Lauwersoog.

On Friday, the government announced a €444 million support package to help the industry become ‘smaller, more diverse and more sustainable.

Dutch Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Minister, Henk Staghouwer announced that the cabinet is allocating a total of €444 million for, among other things, remediation, and innovations to support the necessary transition. He informed the House of Representatives about this.

Fishing is historically firmly rooted in Dutch culture, but the sector has been under pressure in recent years: the space for fishing is shrinking due to Brexit, an increase in wind farms and more protected natural areas. And recently, fuel costs are also rising. The government believes that in order to achieve profitable sustainable fishing, a new course must be set which includes “a restructuring scheme for entrepreneurs who want to stop. Entrepreneurs who want to become more sustainable receive help”.

Minister Staghouwer: “The sea has provided us with food for centuries, and we must keep it that way. At the same time, a sustainable fishing sector is crucial. That is why we must take major steps in the coming period: cleaner engines and fishing techniques with less impact on nature. A smaller sector, but one that is better prepared for the future and with which a good living can be earned”.

The government is making a total of €444 million available over the coming years for the transition to a smaller and more sustainable fleet:

€199 million will be made available from the Climate Fund. The fishing sector is losing space due to the arrival of additional offshore wind farms. In addition, sustainability is necessary. It is spent on supporting innovations, fleet renewal and the shared use of wind farms. The amount is based on expected loss of income due to these developments.

A total of €200 million is available from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) (of which €155 million for remediation, €33 million for the shutdown scheme and €12 million for the liquidity scheme). The restructuring scheme is intended for owners of fishing vessels who can demonstrate that they experience the consequences of Brexit in the form of loss of quota and is subject to approval by the European Commission.

In the North Sea Agreement, € 45 million has already been made available for innovations for sustainable fishing.

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Dutch fishermen protest over rising fuel costs and the marine spatial squeeze

by editor time to read: 6 min