News of emergency aid from the Netherlands government has received a lukewarm reception from the Dutch fishing industry
The ailing fishing industry and the Netherlands will receive a total of €10 million in emergency aid from the cabinet but the news has received a lukewarm reception by the fishing industry.
Fishermen have been in dire straits for some time, partly due to the sky-high fuel prices. And total, fisherman can count on one-off maximum of €30,000 per fishing boat over the next three years.
On Tuesday afternoon, 15 November 2022, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture Piet Adema (CU) announced: “This allowance gives boat owners a helping hand. I am aware that the amount is not cost-effective. It should therefore be seen in conjunction with the financial support to make the fishing fleet more sustainable. For example, fishermen can receive a subsidy to switch to energy-efficient motors.”
The fishing industry has had to wait months for emergency aid. And only after great pressure, including from the House of Representatives, will the support scheme be introduced. That regulation still needs to be worked out: more information will be available but not until the beginning of next year via the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
Earlier, the Government allocated more than €400 million to the fishery to become more sustainable. A lot of money is also going to a restructuring scheme which includes decommissioning boats. The fishing industry is facing setbacks on all fronts. Due to the ban on electric pulse fishing, the gas oil consumption of a cutter has doubled two years ago. In addition, the fishing areas are shrinking due to Brexit, offshore wind farms and marine protected areas.
Minister Adema acknowledged that these are tough times for the fishing industry. In a letter to the Chamber he wrote:
“At the moment, many fishing families are faced with the difficult choice of whether or not to participate in the still outstanding restructuring scheme. I am well aware that these are tough and painful decisions with an enormous impact.” (Source)
The news of the emergency aid has not been greeted warmly by some in the fishing industry.
Jo-Annes de Bat, chairman of the Administrative Platform for Fisheries. Says the €30,000 in support is disproportionate to the increased costs faced by boat owners. (Source)
“The thirty grand is spread over three tax years,” states de Bat. “It is something, but less than in other sectors. The amount does not correspond at all to the increased costs.
“In our neighbouring countries, fisheries have been receiving state aid for a year now. The European Commission recently increased the maximum amount allowed from 35,000 to 300,000 euros.”
As far as De Bat is concerned, Dutch government support is heading towards that European maximum.
Not only the differences between the countries in Europe are a thorn in the side of the fishermen. The Dutch Fishermen’s Union and the PO Delta South point to the support for small and medium-sized enterprises to absorb higher energy costs. This concerns an amount of up to €160,000. The interest groups believe that gas oil is also ‘energy’ and that fishermen should therefore also fall under the support measure.