The Dutch government still refuses to help their ailing fishing fleet according to Nederlandse Visserbond despite exorbitant diesel prices as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Despite various requests, the letter that the PO Delta South, the Nederlandse Vissersbond and VisNed recently sent to the Minister of LNV, Henk Staghouwer, only received a response last Tuesday.
“The Cabinet argues that compensating for the increased energy and fuel prices goes against the objectives set by the government in the context of the necessary energy transition,” says Nederandse Visserbond. “Therefore, such a measure is not appropriate. In a contribution from Nieuwsuurit is even argued that high fuel prices are part of the normal entrepreneurial risk. The French government is compensating fishermen and farmers for the increased fuel prices and thus also safeguards food security in times of crisis. The European Commission now allows this form of state aid. In any case, the Dutch fishermen feel enormously abandoned.”
Not a normal entrepreneurial risk
Under normal circumstances, an entrepreneur bears risks against which he/she cannot insure; the entrepreneurial risk. In an open economy, every entrepreneur has to deal with the dynamic balance between supply and demand of goods and services. Disruptions in that balance occur continuously, which translates into fluctuating prices.
“This is normal and fits within a certain bandwidth and the entrepreneur must take this into account,” says Nederandse Visserbond. “For a few weeks now, the balance in supply and demand for diesel has been seriously disrupted by the brutal war in Ukraine. The western world, including the EU and the Netherlands, puts the Russians on trial sanctions in response to their aggression. The consequences are immediately noticeable for the fishermen; the price of gas oil has more than doubled in recent weeks and is at an all-time high. This week around €0.90/litre, while the turning point for most fishing companies is around €0.45/litre. A profitable fishery is no longer possible for any company. The temporary fuel price surcharge that the trade pays for the fish out of solidarity with the fishermen does help but is not sufficient to guarantee the supply of fresh fish. Switching to pulse fishing and thus saving 50% fuel is not allowed by Brussels. What is allowed is to compensate the fishermen for the increased fuel costs. The French fishermen receive an allowance from their government for the costs of € 0.35/litre gas oil with which they can go to sea. And that with the permission of the European Commission, while the Netherlands consciously chooses not to. How such a normal entrepreneurial risk?”
Energy transition takes time
The Dutch government believes that compensating for increased energy and fuel costs does not fit in with the objective of the energy transition. But emergency breaks laws if the government wants the Dutch fisheries chain to survive the current crisis.
Nederlandse Visserbond says that due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine the Dutch government must reconsider this approach for now.
“It goes without saying that the current situation is urgent and requires decisiveness. In the short term, the Cabinet must compensate the fishermen for the extremely high diesel price. The fishermen will have to do everything they can to reduce their consumption. In the longer term, the cutter fishery must become less dependent on fossil fuels. The Nederlandse Vissersbond/PO Delta Zuid is closely involved in various initiatives to achieve fishing vessels that use less or no fossil fuels.
Conversation with Minister Staghouwer
The Dutch fishing chain (fishermen, auctions, traders and processors) is not yet giving up on a fuel surcharge and this week requested a meeting with Minister Henk Staghouwer about the fuel price crisis.