Due to the high fuel prices, the Dutch fishery is currently losing millions of euros. Because sailing out is too expensive, many ships remain ashore. The fish auction in Urk already gets fish from Norway, Alaska and Iceland.

    ,,A solution must be found quickly, because it is now 1 minute to 12”, says Kees Taal, researcher at Wageningen University about the state of the Dutch fishery. The sector will suffer a loss of more than 20 million euros in the first 8 months of this year, according to research by the university.

    Beam trawling, a method in which mainly flatfish is caught, is the most loss-making with a negative result of 14 million euros. An average beam trawl consumes about 30,000 liters of diesel oil. A liter of diesel oil now costs an average of 90 cents, double the price before the war. “Then you know what’s going on,” says Teun Visser, director of the fish auction in Urk.

    Too expensive

    According to the Wageningen researcher Taal, such a ship is ‘too expensive to catch fish’. “As if the baker bakes bread with an installation that is much too expensive.” The only way out of the problems is a new type of ship, which can be used for cheaper fishing, says Taal. But according to him, that ship is not yet there, and there is no real view of it yet: “We have to work quickly to be profitable.” The cabinet is making 444 million euros available for remediation and renewal of the Dutch fishing fleet . “It is eagerly anticipated, because these blows are huge.”


    These blows are huge

    Kees Taal, researcher at Wageningen University

    They now see 22 percent less fish from Dutch ships at the fish auctions, a reduction of 8 million kilos. Nevertheless, the fish price is good, says Teun Visser. Average kilo prices for sole, shrimp and Norway lobster have increased by tens of percentages. “But the enormous costs do not outweigh these good prices.”

    According to Visser, more and more families are considering making use of the remediation scheme, which was instituted in response to Brexit. “If they’re gone, they’ll never come back.”

    Crew shortage

    In May, the fishing industry on Urk already reported that about half of the ships are ashore. The main reasons mentioned at the time were the high fuel prices (war in Ukraine), a crew shortage and the cutter owners’ waiting to be able to remediate in the autumn of 2022.

    The moderate catches and supply of fish from the North Sea lead to concerns throughout the chain and uncertainty about the future, says the report from Wageningen University. The concerns are not only among the fishermen themselves, but also in the rest of the sector, such as the fish auctions and trading and processing companies. In any case, Teun Visser has already started getting fish from Norway, Iceland and Alaska.

    In addition to economic concerns, fishermen are also losing more and more space in the North Sea due to other users such as wind farms and more and more area is being designated as a nature reserve. Taal: “You cannot continue fishing on the same grounds, more than 30 percent of the fishing grounds will no longer be available for fishing.”

    Fishermen also protested against the cabinet’s nitrogen plans: