Dutch Fishermen have been told to reduce their fishing fleet numbers as the Paris Climate Change Agreement is put into effect.

The Netherlands fishers have been told to bring about the cuts as wind energy and marine conservation plans progress.

This is the warning being given to all nations using the North Sea, as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and offshore wind farms are set to take over more marine areas.

It all comes as the government in the Netherlands are set to redesign the seas surrounding the EU Member State.

The government wants to release €200 million euros, with just over half the funding intended to buy out the fishermen. In order to avail of this fund the fishing fleet must surrender fishing grounds in order to realise wind farms and nature reserves. But some fishermen are angry about that.

Speaking on Dutch radio station NPO Radio 1, Job Schot of the Eendracht Maakt Kracht action group expressed the anger and dismay of many Dutch fishermen.

He said “You don’t become a fisherman to stop. That is a much bigger whole. That is your life, your emotion. We want to keep doing that. Now someone is coming who wants to generate wind energy at sea. But we were the people with the oldest papers. And then they say: here you have a bag of money and go and do it with it. But I want to remain a fisherman and not otherwise. “

Hans Timmers is from the Dutch Wind Energy Association Association who participated in the agreement said “I understand the fishermen’s plea, but they can of course go fishing in different places on the North Sea.”

The Association calls itself a good neighbor of the North Sea. “We believe that we should be able to discuss with fishing whether something is a special fishing ground and whether the social costs are such that we can continue to use it.”

But fisherman Schot is not convinced: “They should have looked at that beforehand. What we now see is that the wind farms will be placed on our best fishing grounds. And we can say that the fishermen have to go further, but you can also say that about the wind farms. “

Six offshore wind farms have been built since 2015, with a further three being completed by 2026. The next three will dwarf the current six wind farms in operation.

  • 2021: Wind Farm Zone Hollandse Kust (west): 1400 MW
  • 2022: Wind Farm Zone Ten Noorden van de Waddeneilanden: 700 MW
  • 2023 – 2026: Wind Farm Zone IJmuiden Ver: 4000 MW

It is reported that the Dutch government will provide € 119 million to buy out fishermen who want to stop and on making the fishing industry more sustainable. Combined with Brexit and losing tradition fishing grounds off the UK, it makes for an uncertain time for the Dutch fleet.

Dirk Kraak is a board member of EMK Fishermen and Fisherman in Den Helder and he thinks creating so many offshore wind farms is an irresponsible idea. He told WNL Haagse Lobby on NPO Radio 1. “If we don’t know what the consequences of those wind farms are on the ecosystem, then we cannot start making plans. There are many negative consequences of windmills. If you want to place 20,000 wind turbines in the North Sea, they will also change the sea current. And then they also change the soil structure and also the fish habitats. “

Democrats 66 MP, Tjeerd de Groot agrees with Kraak that there is still research to be done into the ecological effect of wind turbines. 

“Of course there are a lot of questions,” he says “ but we have to conclude that in the field of sustainable energy, the Netherlands are at the bottom of the European list. It is necessary to do something about this, because we have the Paris climate agreement. That’s why it’s good that we install those wind farms. “

This is also a problem for Kraak personally, he says. “I sometimes lie awake at night, how am I going to solve all this? I also have people on board and I tell them: “I’m going to fight for you so that you keep your job.”

Another area that is concerning Dutch fishermen is the MPAs.

About 20% of the Dutch North Sea is currently officially declared as MPAs. However, according to the North Sea Foundation (NSF), a mere 0.3% was fully protected against all forms of bottom-impacting fisheries in 2017. Based on current proposals, this area has been increased to 5% by 2020. According to the Dutch government, in 2020 they will comply with their own goal of protecting 10-15% of the Dutch North Sea against ‘noteworthy bottom impacts’. The fishing sector states that by the end of this year, fishing will not be permitted in approximately 30% of the Dutch North Sea.

Source: NPO Radio 1 and Noordzee

Dutch Fishermen under pressure to cut their fleet size

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