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PFA members fishing high-quality and healthy herring in December

13 December 2022

PFA members specialise in fishing pelagic fish such as herring, (horse) mackerel and blue whiting. These pelagic species constitute a huge biomass and the shoals of fish can be as big as the island of Malta. Many independent studies have given evidence that the carbon footprint of pelagic fisheries is the lowest of all forms of animal protein production.


Because pelagic fish migrate through the water column (away from the seabed) in huge, homogeneous shoals, vessels from PFA members can fish very selectively, using high-tech equipment such as sonar. As a result, by-catch levels   are no more than around 1%


Pelagic freezer-trawlers of PFA members are larger than most other pelagic trawlers and are almost unique for our processing and freezing space onboard, which makes up around 70% of the vessel's size. This allows for longer fishing trips and less fuel consumption from returning to port.


In pelagic fishing, it is an economic necessity to apply economies of scale due to the very large volumes of fish involved and tough international competition in the seafood market. As always, PFA members are committed to fishing these large volumes within the applicable quota, which are based on a very solid scientific basis.


Pelagic fish are seasonally abundant in specific areas. Therefore, specific species are better fished on specific fishing grounds and in specific months of the year. December is the season for the MSC-certified North Sea herring’s population in the Channel. Its quality is now optimal.


Herring is very healthy because it contains high-quality proteins, vitamins and minerals, along with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are an essential part of a healthy diet. In addition, this herring from PFA members is very affordable. Around 90 percent of all our fish is destined for markets outside Europe, especially African countries where food security is not always certain.


Several freezer-trawlers from PFA members will be fishing in the Channel these weeks. Despite some claims that large vessels or "supertrawlers" are less sustainable than smaller vessels, we like to continue to tell the factual story about our vessels:


  • Not the size of the vessel, but scientifically derived quotas determine how much freezer-trawlers can fish.
  • Our fishing operations are within the allocated quotas.
  • Pelagic fishing is not in competition with small scale fishers. It’s only a different speciality which focuses on almost entirely different stocks, different fishing grounds and different markets.


Find here our fact sheets about fihsing in the Channel in English and French.





PFA represents the interests of nine European freezer-trawler companies involved in pelagic fishing activities for human consumption.

Learn more about the PFA policy of sustainable and responsible production.

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