The PECH Committee votes in favour of fishers having a say in where offshore wind farms are planned and built offering hope to fishers

The PECH Committee votes in favour of fishers having a say in where offshore wind farms are planned and built

A majority of the European Parliament’ Committee on Fisheries (PECH Committee) believes that fishers should be able to have a say in where offshore wind farms can be built.

The PECH Committee voted 26 votes in favour, with two abstentions and zero votes against. The initiative report was put forward on Tuesday (25 May) by Dutch MEP Peter van Dalen and it was adopted by the PECH Committee.

Dutch fishermen in the North Sea have declared it a victory who have been campaigning against the onslaught of offshore wind farms/parks that have been forced upon the fishing communities of the North Sea.

Huge swathes of the North Sea have been earmarked for offshore renewable projects and many are planned in traditional fishing grounds, which have upset fishers. The industry feels that they are being squeezed out of their livelihoods only to be replaced by giant turbines.

“This is a solid boost,” says the Peter van Dalen and the Dutch fishers of the North Sea agree. 

Dirk Kraak of fisheries organisation Eendracht Maakt Kracht (EMK): “This means a lot to us.” 

The fisherman from Den Helder, together with his colleague Job Schot from Tholen, campaigned in Brussels because the fishery had no say whatsoever in plans for the construction of offshore wind farms. “Actually, I am proud of what we have now achieved,” says Kraak.

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He hopes that in the future, fishers will sit at the table when plans are made for new wind farms at sea. Or as Van Dalen says: “They earn their living on the water and it is therefore only logical that this sector should have a decisive vote. So that is more than just ‘participation’.”

Until now, fisheries have lost important fishing grounds. Kraak:

“We currently fish a lot in an area where Hollandse Kust Zuid is being built. Important fishing grounds for us, these are our spring swims. We will soon lose them – from next year we will no longer be allowed to come here – and we are very disappointed with that. Things must be different in the future.”

It is striking in this file that the EMK fishermen worked with French colleagues from Brittany. Previously, the Dutch and the French were often diametrically opposed, for example in the recent European ban on pulse fishing. The French wanted the permits for this form of fishing to be revoked, the Dutch suffered great damage as a result. 

On that subject Dirk Kraak said “But now we have built a small bridge again.”

Now that the initiative report has the support of the fisheries committee, the European Parliament will consider windmills and fisheries at the end of June.

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Small victory for fishers on having a say in locations of offshore wind farms

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