News // Latest News


Pelagic fisheries in the Channel by the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA)

12 December 2019

20191125 - PFA Factsheet Pelagic fisheries in the Channel - EN -.pdf


Pêches pélagiques dans la Manche, par l’Association des chalutiers-congélateurs de pêche pélagique

12 December 2019

20191125 - PFA Factsheet Peches pelagiques dans la Manche - FR -.pdf




The Dutch Fishing News (VisserijNieuws) published a long-read of the PFA research activities

18 June 2019

The Dutch Fishing News (VisserijNieuws) published a long-read of the PFA research activities of the past 5 years in the special edition on pelagic fishing, 14 June 2019. The article clearly shows the breadth and commitment of activities that the PFA has been engaged in and how that is changing the role of the fishing industry with science. [pdf]


Video release on the industry survey on 6a herring

3 November 2017

During August and September 2017, the second iteration of the industry survey on 6a herring has been carried out by six industry vessels (of which three from PFA members). The survey aims to provide new and better information on the size and composition of herring stocks in the region. The filmmaker Andrew Scott summarized the survey approach in this video.



5 April 2018

Gezamenlijk standpunt inzake vissenwelzijn:


/media/afbeeldingen/20180306 - Gezamenlijke-reactie-Visserijsector-dierenwelzijn-visfederatie-nvb-visned-rvz-juist.pdf


PFA in ICES training course on acoustic surveys

19 June 2017

Martin Pastoors participated in the first ICES training course on acoustic surveys (12-16 June 2017) that was lead by Paul Fernandes (University of Aberdeen) and John Horne (University of Washington) and attracted 25 participants from Europe, USA, Canada and Kenia. The course provided a thorough overview from the basic physics of underwater sound all the way up to the calculation of an age composition in an acoustic trawl survey. It was very instructive to be guided through this whole process. Some ideas that could be picked up in the research within PFA: annual calibration of acoustic equipment on trawlers, using software for integrating multiple frequencies in one screen and training in acoustics for vessel crew.


Article in VisserijNieuws on the hake grid experiments

13 June 2017

In May 2017 we carried out research to try and avoid the bycatch of hake in the pelagic fishery for blue whiting. The trials were carried out on board of the SCH72 Frank Bonefaas. A description of the escape grid and the trials has been published in VisserijNieuws on 9 June 2017 (Article VisserijNieuws)




PFA and RVZ sign Green Deal for Clean Sea

13 March 2017

10-03-2017 PFA and RVZ sign Green Deal for Clean Sea

On behalf of the large Dutch pelagic fishing companies the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) and the Dutch Pelagic Ship-owners Association (RVZ) have signed a Green Deal for a Clean Sea. By signing PFA and RVZ commit to achieve in 2020 the shared objective to recycle or to usefully recover 95% of the waste from business operations and gear. No distinction is made whether the ships sail under the Dutch flag or under German or French flag, nor whether these ships operate in the North Sea or beyond.

In the framework of the Green Deal for fisheries - 'Together for a clean sea ' already existing initiatives will be further intensified and extended. In recent years the PFA/RVZ already initiated the following activities aimed at minimizing the impact on the environment at sea by:

  • Separating on board of the vessels the produced waste in 7 categories (being paper/cardboard, glass/tin, plastic, household waste, old nets, oil residue and other chemicals, as well as organic waste.
  • Draining, recycling or recovering the separated waste ashore. And by already asking our net suppliers to recycle the used fishing nets.
  • Minimizing the use of cleaning products on board of  the ships as much as possible, and by exclusively using biodegradable cleaning products.

Also the new on-shore power facilities in the Dutch pelagic fishing ports of IJmuiden and Scheveningen contribute to a cleaner environment.




PFA en RVZ ondertekenen Green Deal voor een Schone Zee

13 March 2017


10-03-2017 PFA en RVZ ondertekenen Green Deal voor een Schone Zee

De Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) en de Redersvereniging voor de Zeevisserij (RVZ) hebben mede namens de grote Nederlandse pelagische rederijen die lid zijn van de PFA/RVZ de Green Deal voor een Schone Zee ondertekend. Met deze ondertekening verbinden de PFA en de RVZ zich om in 2020 de gezamenlijke doelstelling te behalen om 95% van het afval uit de bedrijfsvoering en vistuig te recyclen dan wel nuttig toe te passen. Daarbij wordt geen onderscheid gemaakt of de schepen onder Nederlandse vlag varen of onder Duitse of Franse vlag en of deze schepen actief zijn in de Noordzee of daarbuiten.

In het kader van de Green Deal voor de Visserij - ‘Samen voor een schone zee’ zullen bestaande initiatieven verder geïntensiveerd en uitgebreid worden. De afgelopen jaren hebben de PFA/RVZ zich al ingezet voor een minimale belasting van het milieu op zee door:

  • Aan boord van de schepen het geproduceerde afval te scheiden in 7 categorieën  (zijnde papier/karton, glas/blik, plastic, huishoudelijk afval, oude netten, olieresten en andere chemische stoffen en organisch afval.
  • Het afval vervolgens aan wal gescheiden af te voeren en te laten recyclen, dan wel te laten verwerken. Door gebruikte visnetten nu al te laten hergebruiken door de leverancier zelf.
  • En het gebruik van schoonmaakmiddelen aan boord van de schepen zo veel mogelijk te minimaliseren en exclusief biologisch afbreekbare schoonmaakmiddelen te gebruiken.

Ook de nieuwe inrichting van walstroom faciliteiten in onze visserijhavens zoals in IJmuiden en – sedert deze week ook – in Scheveningen leveren een bijdrage aan een schoner milieu.


PFA and Greenpeace sign MoU on sustainable pelagic fisheries

31 August 2016


The Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) and its member companies Parlevliet & Van der Plas, Cornelis Vrolijk and W. van der Zwan, signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Greenpeace. Shared objective is to achieve a sustainable (pelagic) fisheries, such as the herring and mackerel fishery, and a healthy balance between fisheries and the marine environment. PFA will not explore until now unfished areas in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.


The agreements in the MoU recognize the leading role of the PFA:

  • in the collection of scientific data and scientific research regarding (pelagic) resources, avoiding bycatch, improving selectivity and the impact on the marine ecosystem, and
  • in constructively contributing to effective fisheries management in all regions where members of the PFA have a pelagic fishing operation.
  • Both parties also agreed that the PFA member companies refrain from entering into fishing in the until now unfished areas in the Arctic and Antarctic and to work together in improving regional fisheries management in West Africa.

PFA and Greenpeace will entertain an ongoing dialogue on all issues listed in the MoU.

The duration of the agreement is set at ten years.



/media/afbeeldingen/20160831 - MoU Greenpeace-PFA - agreed text (FINAL).pdf


Press Statement:

/media/afbeeldingen/20160831 - Joint press statement Greenpeace PFA and VNO - ENG .pdf



/media/afbeeldingen/20160831 - Gezamenlijk persbericht van Greenpeace PFA en VNO - NL.pdf


Picture taken by Nina Slagmolen:

/media/afbeeldingen/20160831 - signing MoU GP-PFA.pdf




International workshop on the use of acoustic data from Fishing vessels

16 June 2015

On 12 June 2015, PFA organized on behalf of the EU pelagic fishing industry, a workshop on the use of fishing vessel acoustics for research. The workshop was held at Schiphol airport and was well attended by skippers, fleet managers and researchers. With the help of presentations from different parts of the world (New Zealand, Canada, Peru, Europe) we managed to develop a broad picture of the potential use and method for assembling fishing vessel acoustic data for research purposes. The acoustic data from fishing vessels could broadly be used for two different purposes: quantitative data directed at stock estimation and stock assessment, and qualitative data on overall trends and distributions within marine ecosystems. The overall driver could be to collect data where traditional research activities cannot reach (e.g. remote areas, rough weather, many vessels at the same time). More information in the report of the workshop.


Statement in response to the release of the Atlantic documentary in Ireland

29 April 2016

Catching with care

Statement in response to the release of the Atlantic documentary in Ireland.

The recently released documentary Atlantic includes references to PFA member vessels, raising questions over the manner in which they operate. The PFA prides itself on the fact all its member vessels fish legally in an ethical, sustainable and responsible manner, whether operating in Irish waters or elsewhere.

PFA member vessels operate within the quota system set according to the Common Fisheries Policy and employ a range of measures to ensure their operation is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Since January 2015, the pelagic fishing industry has been under an EU-wide discard ban meaning that everything that is caught is accounted for and landed. The pelagic industry was the first to see the discard ban introduced due to the fact its operations were largely discard free.

Furthermore, pelagic vessels have a widely acknowledged low level of bycatch. They are targeting large, mid water shoals of fish and are highly effective at pinpointing these. Due to this, bycatch is very low – between 0 and 5 per cent depending on the vessel and the stock they are targeting. To say our members are discarding high numbers of fish is simply not true.

The PFA believes pelagic freezer vessels are being unfairly targeted in some Irish media and vilified with often spurious claims. The term ‘supertrawlers’ is in essence a misnomer. While these vessels are large, around 80% of this size is taken up by the on-board sorting, freezing, processing and storage departments. Pelagic freezer vessels only catch what they are able to freeze – which is between 80 and 400 tonnes in 24 hours, depending the size of the freezer-trawler.
Smaller pelagic trawlers landing fresh fish often catch much more than this in one day, sometimes up to 1,000 tonnes.

PFA members are committed to operating in a legal, professional and sustainable manner and this underlines all our activity in Irish waters and beyond.


PFA participates in International Mackerel and Horse Mackerel Egg survey

10 May 2016

On May 10, 2016 the Atlantic Lady (H180) freezer trawler will sail out of the port of Scheveningen to participate in the tri-annual international mackerel and horse mackerel egg survey. On board will be the crew of the vessel with Dirk Haasnoot as skipper and 5 researchers of IMARES with Cindy van Damme as cruise leader. The PFA is proud to be able to support the international egg survey by providing a vessel and crew and funding for the research. The tri-annual egg survey for mackerel and horse mackerel is an important part of the assessments of those stocks.

The contribution of the pelagic industry to the egg survey is the result of a close collaboration between industry and science that was initiated last year with an ad hoc pre-egg survey survey. This year the fishing industries of Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands are each contributing a two week period of survey time and a survey platform. Results of the survey will be collated into the international egg survey report.

More information



Persbericht: Eerste Noord-Atlantische visserij op blauwe wijting MSC gecertificeerd

11 February 2016


Eerste Noord‐Atlantische visserij op blauwe wijting MSC gecertificeerd

Den Haag, 11 februari 2016 ‐Twee derde van de totale vangst van blauwe wijting (Micromesistious
poutassaou) in de Noord‐Atlantische Oceaan is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) gecertificeerd voor
duurzame visserij. Vissers uit Nederland, Denemarken, Ierland, Schotland en Frankrijk hebben samen gewerkt om het MSC certificaat te verkrijgen. De groep bestaat uit de Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association (NL, DE, UK, F, LT), de Danish Pelagic Producers Organisation, Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation Ltd (IRL), de Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group Ltd en de Compagnie des Peches de Saint‐Malo (F). 

Gerard van Balsfoort van de Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association (PFA), die namens de vijf visserijorganisaties
het certificeringsproces coördineerde en begeleidde, zegt: "Ik ben zeer verheugd dat de leden van de vijf
visserijorganisaties MSC‐certificatie hebben behaald voor de noordoostelijke Atlantische Oceaan visserij op
blauwe wijting. Het onderstreept eens te meer de lange termijn inzet en medewerking van de EU pelagische
vloot bij het waarborgen van duurzaam visserijbeheer en selectieve visserijpraktijken". 

Zeer selectieve vistechnieken 

De gecombineerde vloot van 72 schepen vist op hetzelfde visbestand van blauwe wijting, met pelagische (in de
middelste waterlaag) sleepnetten. Dat is een zeer selectieve vismethode voor de vissoorten die gevangen
worden. Blauwe wijting maakt bij deze visserij ten minste 99% van de gemiddelde totale vangst uit.
Akoestische apparatuur maakt het voor vissers mogelijk om blauwe wijting te identificeren door zijn
karakteristieke signaal type, de diepte en de locatie. Eenmaal geïdentificeerd wordt het net uitgezet en begint
de visserij met behulp van sonar om de omvang van de school en zwemrichting te bepalen. Als gevolg van het
samenscholende gedrag van blauwe wijting in de paaitijd zijn de vistrekken zeer kort, meestal 10‐20 minuten,
en is er minimale bijvangst.
Vier van de gecertificeerde visserijen verkopen de vis voornamelijk voor menselijke consumptie, met inbegrip
van surimi (vis sticks), terwijl DPPO ook levert voor de vismeelindustrie. Waar vroeger deze vis zijn bestemming
vond in de vismeelproductie, is er de afgelopen jaren voor blauwe wijting een afzetmarkt voor menselijke
consumptie opgebouwd in Afrika en China. 

Een groeiend visbestand 

Blauwe wijting is een kabeljauwachtige vis van rond de 25 cm lang. Ze bevinden zich op een diepte van 150 tot
3.000m, maar meestal tussen de 300‐400m. Het verspreidingsgebied is het noordoostelijk deel van de
Atlantische Oceaan. Het visbestand neemt gestaag toe sinds 2011. 

De moderne visserij op blauwe wijting is ontwikkeld tijdens de tweede helft van de jaren 1970 en de
visgronden zijn bekend bij vissers en wetenschappers. In 2013 heeft de vloot die binnen deze certificering valt
73.000 ton aangeland. De overeengekomen totaal toegestane vangst voor de noordelijke regio in de EU
bedroeg 116.032 ton in 2013. Vanaf nu zal derhalve het grootste deel van de noordelijke blauwe wijting in de
EU MSC gecertificeerd zijn. 

“Wij verwelkomen de certificering van deze selectieve visserij en zijn verheugd met de internationale
samenwerking van visserijbedrijven. Zeker in een tijd waarin goede internationale afspraken in visserijbeheer
steeds noodzakelijker blijken.
” Zegt de woordvoerder van MSC Benelux Hans Nieuwenhuis

De MSC certificering is vijf jaar geldig en de beoordeling is uitgevoerd door onafhankelijke auditors van ME
Certification ltd.

Noot voor de redactie: 

Voor vragen of meer informatie kunt u contact opnemen met:
‐ Mieke Snoek
Marine Stewardship Council
Communications Manager, Nederland
Phone: +31 6 8122 2647 

‐ Gerard van Balsfoort
Pelagic Freezer‐trawler Association
Phone: 06 51 411 431. 

Over Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) 

De Marine Stewardship Council is een internationale non‐profit organisatie. Onze visie is dat oceanen weer
krioelen van leven en dat vis‐, schaal‐ en schelpdierbestanden voor deze en volgende generaties worden veilig
gesteld. Ons keurmerk en certificeringsprogramma erkent en beloont duurzame visserijen en helpt de markt
voor vis, schaal‐, en schelpdieren te veranderen naar een meer duurzame basis. 

Het MSC‐keurmerk op een vis‐, schaal‐ en schelpdierproduct betekent dat:
‐ het van een wildgevangen visserij komt die onafhankelijk tegen de op wetenschap berustende MSC standaard voor milieubewust en duurzaam vissen gecertificeerd is.
‐ volledig traceerbaar is naar een duurzame bron 

Meer dan 260 visserijen in meer dan 35 landen zijn MSC gecertificeerd. Gezamenlijk brengen deze visserijen
bijna 9 miljoen ton aan land. Dit is rond de 10% van de vis die wereldwijd gevangen wordt. Wereldwijd dragen meer dan 19.000 producten het MSC‐keurmerk. Meer informatie:


Press release: First North Atlantic blue whiting fisheries become MSC certified

11 February 2016

Press Release 

First North Atlantic blue whiting fisheries become MSC Certified 

February 11th, 2016 

Two thirds of the total catch of North East Atlantic blue whiting (Micromesistious poutassaou) has achieved
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for sustainable fishing practices. Fishers from Denmark, The
Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland and France have worked in collaboration to receive the MSC certification.
The group consists of the Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association (NL, UK, DE, F, LT), Danish Pelagic Producers
Organisation, Killybegs Fishermen´s Organisation Ltd (IRL), Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group Ltd (UK)
and Compagnie des Peches de Saint Malo (F). 

Gerard van Balsfoort from the Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association (PFA) who coordinated and represented
the client group during the certification process comments: “I am very pleased that the members of the five
fisheries organisations have received MSC certification for the Northeast Atlantic Blue Whiting fishery. It
once again underlines the long term commitment and cooperation of the EU pelagic fleets in ensuring
sustainable fisheries management and selective fishing practices”. 

Highly selective fishing techniques 

The combined fleet of 72 fishing vessels pursue the same target stock of blue whiting, using pelagic
(midwater) trawl, which is a very selective fishing method in terms of the fish species it captures. Blue
whiting makes up at least 99% of the average total catch composition of the client fleets.
Echosounding equipment enables skippers to identify blue whiting from its characteristic signal type, depth
and location. Once identified, the net is deployed and fishing commences using sonar to show the shoal
size and swimming direction. Due to the aggregating nature of blue whiting at spawning time, hauls are
very short, typically 10‐20 min which also minimises bycatch species.
Four of the certified fisheries sell mainly for human consumption including surimi (fish sticks) and fish pie
fillings, while DPPO also supplies the fishmeal industry. There is an increasing demand for blue whiting in
African and Chinese markets for human consumption. 

A growing stock 

Blue whiting is a cod‐like fish most commonly around 25cm long. It is found in a depth range of 150 to
3000m, but most commonly at 300‐400m and is distributed widely throughout the North‐eastern Atlantic.
Stocks have been steadily increasing since 2011. 

The modern blue whiting fishery developed during the second half of the 1970s and the fishing grounds are
well known from fishermen’s experience and scientific surveys. In 2013 the vessels included in this
certification landed 73,000 tonnes. The agreed total allowable catch in 2013 for the northern area in the EU
was 116,032 tonnes. Going forward the majority of the blue whiting landed from the northern area will be
from MSC certified fisheries. 

“The certification of the blue whiting fishery is a fantastic achievement for these fishers, and an example of
what can be achieved with fishing organisations work together for mutual benefit.” Said MSC Europe
Director, Camiel Derichs, “A significant part of the catches of this fleet will find its way to human
consumtion markets, including surimi production. However, a sizable portion is used for the production of
fishmeal and oil. This fits well in a trend we observe, where a growing interest amongst fishmeal and oil
producers for credible verification of sustainability incentivices reduction fisheries to seek MSC
certification. The collaboration between these fishers, and their commitment to MSC certification will help
to protect the stocks and ensure a strong future for the blue whiting industry. We are delighted that the
certification of blue whiting is approved and welcome the commitment among the fisheries to ensure that
their blue whiting catch is sustainable. “ 

The MSC certification is valid for five years and the assessment has been carried out by independent
auditors from ME Certification ltd. 


Note to editors:
For questions or more information please contact Gerard van Balsfoort of the Pelagic Freezer‐trawler
Association on or telephone +31 651 411 431. 

About the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) 

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non‐profit organization. Our vision is for the
world’s oceans to be teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations.
Our ecolabel and certification program recognises and rewards sustainable fishing practices and is helping
create a more sustainable seafood market. 

The MSC ecolabel on a seafood product means that: 

♦ It comes from a wild‐catch fishery which has been independently certified to the MSC’s sciencebased
standard for environmentally sustainable fishing.
♦ It’s fully traceable to a sustainable source. 

More than 250 fisheries in over 30 countries are certified to the MSC’s Standard. These fisheries have a
combined annual seafood production of almost nine million metric tonnes, representing close to 10% of
annual global yields. More than 19,000 seafood products worldwide carry the MSC ecolabel. For more
information visit


Press release Europêche: Fishing for fairness in Africa

3 June 2015

Press release Europêche: Fishing for fairness in Africa


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.

Check our certified