Fishermen in the Netherlands continue their objections to North Sea offshore wind farms
Fishermen in the Netherlands have once again voiced their objections to offshore wind farms being built on valuable traditional fishing grounds in the North Sea.
Speaking in Schuttevaer, Helden fisherman Dirk Kraak of the Jade BRA-7 spoke in regards his concern that his habitat and fishing opportunities are under threat from the rapid growth of offshore wind farms in the North Sea.
Dirk Kraak is one of the members of Eendracht Maakt Kracht (EMK) who oppose the expansion of the wind farms and believes that the fishing industry has not been consulted on the expansion of wind farms into the seas.
He says “In my opinion, fishermen have hardly been involved in discussions about those parks.”
“Fishermen have become reluctant to take legal action after the lost court case at the Council of State in 2017”, Kraak tells Schuttevaer,, who has Brake as home for his pulse trawler. “The Paris Climate Agreement accelerated the construction of wind farms. Even research areas were suddenly pointed out as permanent areas. Permits were issued faster and faster. Is this all possible, do we fishermen think?”
Dutch fishermen see many problems coming with offshore wind farms. One of which is pushing fishermen off traditional fishing grounds and pushing them into shipping lanes where there is heavy traffic. Also the fishing vessels will be forced to work in a smaller area which will put more pressure on fish stocks in that area.
According to Kraak, the wind farms in the North Sea are being constructed with such force that everything within a radius of four kilometers around the piles will die. “Those piles also have a diameter of 10 meters, if you place hundreds of them, it will affect the structure of the seabed.”
Kraak is outraged that proper fishing is seen as a harmful activity. “The North Sea has never failed us fishermen, so why should we want to destroy it? If I catch a fish like that when it’s five or six years old and its life cycle is seven years, what makes that fishing so bad?”
Moreover, the fleet has already been halved and alternative fishing methods have been devised. “At sea, nature is in balance with its users. If you now let go of a new user, the wind farms, what are the consequences?”
But despite all the good intentions, the fishermen find little or no response in Dutch and European politics. “If we come up with solutions, and that also happens with the farmers, they will be swept off the table. But the politicians don’t understand: nature is our life.”
North Sea Agreement
In June this year, the Dutch cabinet and the representatives of the various users of the North Sea reached an agreement in principle on the division of the North Sea.
In this so-called North Sea Agreement, it was agreed that the number of wind farms will be expanded considerably. The fishing fleet must also be restructured to make ships more sustainable and profitable. 119 million euros will be made available for this. Certain areas are also designated as closed nature reserves. For example, the Frisian Front, which is important for fisheries, will largely close for fisheries. The Bruin Bank will also become a nature reserve. A majority of fishermen rejected the negotiating agreement, so that the sector did not sign it.
So does Kraak see a compromise between offshore wind farms and the fishing industry?
“We just don’t want those parks in certain areas. These are living and spawning areas on which we depend.”
According to Kraak, mistakes were also made around the realisation of the North Sea Agreement between the various interest groups. “We as fishermen could have been a bit more firm in this. As an action group EMK, we also spoke with our supporters. And he doesn’t want it that way. All kinds of promises are made. But that is not enough. We only want to make concrete agreements.”