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EAPO + Europêche PRESS RELEASE: EU fishing industry calls once again for EU action (...)

23 June 2022

EU fishing industry calls once again for EU action against Norway and Faroe Islands to stop their overfishing of the Northeast Atlantic mackerel stock


The unilaterally set Northeast Atlantic mackerel quotas by Norway and Faroe Islands are unacceptable. The EU fishing industry is asking for an immediate EU response to stop Norway and Faroe Islands continuing their unsustainable and irresponsible behaviour, to prevent overfishing of the Northeast Atlantic mackerel stock. We reiterate our call on the EU Commission and the Council to make use of the instruments at their disposal, such as trade measures, for concrete action. Right now, responsible EU businesses are at risk of being disadvantaged for doing the right thing.


Over the past days, first the Faroe Islands and then Norway decided to unilaterally set large excessive quotas for their share in the mackerel fishery in 2022, at 19.6% and 35% of the scientific advice for total catches respectively. They continue to fish at the same irresponsible, unrealistically inflated levels as in the past year, when both countries increased their shares by 55%. The basis for Norway’s decision, the zonal attachment approach[1], was in this case recently judged by scientists from all involved Coastal States as highly flawed, since the data on geographic distribution is incomplete and gives room for multiple interpretations.


These actions fly in the face of the ongoing efforts to reach agreement on a sharing arrangement between all involved Coastal States for the Northeast Atlantic mackerel stock. Although the Coastal States have set the total fishing opportunities for 2022 in line with scientific advice (794,920 tonnes), total catches will  again be much higher due to the fact that most parties are fishing substantially more than would be allowed on the basis of the last agreed shares. At this point only the EU and the UK are sticking with quotas based on the most recent sharing arrangement in place.


Tim Heddema, chair of the EU pelagic fishing industry, organized under the banner of EAPO and Europêche, comments: “This overfishing remains entirely unjustified and at odds with the sensible and sustainable fisheries management that the world supports and demands. It puts unacceptable pressure on a stock that is of great importance for many European fishing nations. While appealing to Norway and Faroe Islands to work in partnership for the benefit of all, we now need a strong voice from the EU, and moreover, we need strong action. The solution is not to sit back and leave it to the EU to compensate for the recklessness of others by fishing less ourselves, which in turn is further disadvantaging the EU industry’s market position. Instead, the EU has plenty of options available to counteract and deter this unacceptable behaviour, such as - but not limited to - using its power as the main market for the other Coastal States’ seafood exports. We are calling on the Commission for immediate action. In addition, with regard to further negotiations on the sharing arrangement, the EU needs to make it 100% clear that it will not accept the current overfishing to count towards an increased fishing track record for those parties concerned.”


Contact: Tim Heddema - +31625045602 /


[1] ‘Zonal attachment’ of a stock refers to the share of the stock residing within a particular country's economic zone, if necessary weighted by the time it spends in a country's zone over a year.


You can find the PDF version of this press release here.


PFA president Heddema informs MEPs about state of play of sustainable fisheries mngm. in NE Atlantic

20 June 2022

PFA president Tim Heddema informs MEPs about state of play of sustainable fisheries management in NE Atlantic


On Tuesday 14 June, PFA President Tim Heddema gave a presentation at a public hearing of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee on the state of play and experience with management in the Northeast Atlantic.


During his presentation, the PFA president highlighted four challenges for the pelagic fishing industry resulting from the UK leaving the EU:


1. The direct economic impact of the loss of fishing rights

2. Bilateral cooperation with the UK as an independent coastal state

3. The impact of the UK becoming an independent coastal state on the relations between the coastal states around the Northeast Atlantic Ocean

4. The possible renegotiation of the fisheries agreement under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement


Unfortunately, meetings between old friends, whether government officials, scientists or industry representatives, have inevitably become less frequent. UK counterparts have also had to leave European industry bodies and Advisory Councils. And tragically, the UK government takes a less than constructive approach to EU-UK fisheries cooperation, choosing to forego proper consultation of the EU and its stakeholders before introducing new policies and management measures.


Having an additional coastal state at the negotiating table naturally makes such negotiations more difficult. Especially since this new coastal state, similarly to Norway, is striving for zonal attachment as the primary criterion on which to base a sharing arrangement for mackerel (and possibly blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring as well), instead of historical track records and economic interest. This is cherry-picking at its finest, since scientists agree that there are too many data gaps and uncertainties to be able to paint a clear picture of the geographic distribution of the stock throughout all zones and life stages.


Heddema also addressed the actions of other coastal states like Norway and the Faroe Islands, who continue to set excessive unilateral quotas that make the total actual catches far exceed, by as much as 40 percent, the total fishing opportunities agreed by the coastal states in line with scientific advice:


“As a result, we have been without an agreement on joint management for some time and without an MSC label for these fisheries. The EU seems to be the only one that wants to continue to use the 2014 distribution key as in recent years, and because of that sustainable approach, we can be extra proud of its track record."


Heddema pointed out that this behaviour puts unacceptable pressure on the mackerel stock and that it would be to the credit of NGOs that tend to approach the EU critically, to also speak out about these actions. But more importantly, the EUmust take a firmer stance than it has done so far. Playing nice has a sell-by date.


The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the EU and the UK contains a review clause regarding mutual access for fisheries after 5½ years. This short horizon has created lasting uncertainty for European fishers and shipowners and therefore also a barrier to investing in vessels and innovations. In case the UK would consider unilaterally changing access arrangements and even quota shares, the EU should be prepared to meet these with tough countermeasures. Using its power as the main market for UK (seafood) exports has worked well in the Brexit negotiations.


When it comes to access to UK waters, the EU must continue to present the facts and fight unjustified discrimination of vessels. All segments of the EU fleet are at risk of being banned on the basis of political opportunism. Heddema gave the example that freezer-trawlers from PFA members are often the target of (false) arguments such as that large vessels or 'supertrawlers' are less sustainable than smaller vessels.


The PFA continues to tell the fact-based story about freezer-trawlers: our members’ vessels are specialized to fish large quantities of fish from stocks that constitute a huge biomass. They fish within quota, with a very solid scientific basis and with an ecological footprint that per kilo of product is the smallest of all forms of animal protein production. The fishing is selective and efficient because of the large, homogeneous shoals of fish and the freezing capacity on board. That takes up 70% of the space and allows fishing trips to be much longer, with less fuel consumption. This ensures that the quality remains good for direct human consumption and the daily provision of 6 million affordable meals.


Heddema concluded his speech with the important statement that fact-free arguments should not determine the future of fish stocks and our fishers.


PFA contributes important data to the international triennial mackerel egg survey

23 March 2022

PFA contributes important data to the international triennial mackerel egg survey 


PFA’s assistant scientist Lina de Nijs executed the first phase of a valuable study into the potential fecundity of female mackerel in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Fecundity is the natural capability to produce offspring, measured by the number of eggs per female fish.


Through this research, the PFA is contributing important information to the international triennial mackerel egg survey that is taking place this year from February until August. Under supervision and instruction by scientists from Wageningen Marine Research (WMR) and PFA Chief Science Officer Martin Pastoors, Lina worked onboard a PFA freezer-trawler during two trips. She managed to measure 2,220 mackerel of which 379 could be sampled for gonads because the fish were in the right stage. These samples will later be further analysed in the WMR laboratory.


This type of collaboration between science and the fishing sector provides important data and expands knowledge. 


Lina de Nijs:


“Working on scientific research in a commercial fishing environment was another step in my steep learning curve as a junior fisheries scientist! I thoroughly enjoyed the close collaboration with the crew onboard who were very helpful and supportive. I look forward to learn more about the next steps in this research process.”


Lina’s journey in numbers (infographic):


  • 45 days at sea;
  • 49 hauls from which mackerels were sampled;
  • 2,200 mackerels were examined;
  • 379 samples were taken.


PFA introduces students to pelagic fishing

15 March 2022

PFA introduces students to pelagic fishing


The Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) often shares the story behind pelagic fishing with different stakeholders. Recently, PFA’s Chief Science Officer Martin Pastoors gave introductions to students from two different universities. All kinds of different topics were included in lectures and discussions: safety on board, education, research, innovation and communication.


The first physical lecture since the COVID pandemic was given by Martin Pastoors at the Wageningen University & Research campus in February 2022. This guest lecture was part of the study course named Sustainability in Fish and Seafood Production.


With his presentation, Martin Pastoors aimed to illustrate the collaboration between the fishing industry and science, which is an important element for sustainable management of fish stocks. After a short introduction of the history of pelagic fishing, the group of around 45 students gained more insight into the technology, science and sustainability of the PFA. For example: the PFA-self sampling programme, vessel acoustics, and improving fisheries selectivity. In addition, also the role of PFA members and their crew on pelagic freezer-trawlers to collect all this new sources of information was highlighted.


Martin Pastoors: “Fishers can be the eyes and the ears at sea. The data, information and knowledge of fishers result in audits, evaluations and reports that are essential to maintain a sustainable fishery for pelagic fish stocks. Because this collaboration is so important, the results are always returned to the practitioners on sea.”


Friday March 4th, 2022, the PFA together with the Dutch Fishing Association for demersal fisheries hosted an introductions to the fishing sector for students from the University of Van Hall Larenstein at the office of PFA-member Cornelis Vrolijk in the harbour of IJmuiden. The introductions were part of the minor Sustainable Fishing and Aquaculture.


After a presentation of Martin Pastoors, in which several research projects of the PFA were discussed, the students were given the opportunity to visit an actual freezer-trawler. For more than an hour they were shown around by the first officer of the vessel 'Alina'. The students were introduced to the different characteristics of a pelagic freezer-trawler: after a visit to the bridge, the freezing and processing facilities were examined.


After the tour, the students had the opportunity to ask questions about the presentations and their visit onboard. On behalf of the PFA, Martin Pastoors and Communication officer Patrick Bruinink answered all questions from the students and teachers of Van Hall Larenstein.


The PFA is always happy to tell you more about the projects that we are involved in.


Are you a student and do you have questions about our research activities? Please feel free to contact Mr Martin Pastoors - Chief Science Officer PFA.


You can find more information on our research page.



9 February 2022




The Atlantic High Sea Fishing Company, owner of the Margiris vessel, and a member of the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) would like to point out that the incident that took place on board the vessel off La Rochelle on 3 February was in no way related to the capture of unwanted fish, contrary to the accusations made. 


An amount of blue whiting – a quota species, particularly valuable for freezer-trawlers –  was involuntarily released into the sea from the Margiris, due to a rupture in the cod-end part of its net. It was caused by the unexpectedly large volume of the fish caught. 


In line with EU law, the incident and the quantities lost have been recorded in the vessel’s log book and reported to the authorities of the vessel’s flag state, Lithuania. 


The Atlantic High Sea Fishing Company is cooperating fully with the investigation opened for failure to comply with the "obligation to land caught species". This obligation would require the fish to have been hauled aboard the vessel, which was never the case as it was unintentionally released during the hauling of the trawl. It should also be noted that pelagic trawlers use mid-water trawls and are not equipped to fish on the surface of the water.


The Margiris was thoroughly checked by French authorities on the 2ndof February, the day before the incident. The inspection report concluded that the vessel was operating fully in-line with EU law, which includes provisions drawn up to make it technically impossible to discard fish already onboard;


The report also established that the only species onboard were blue whiting, AHSFC’s target species. Although being a very low priced fish, blue whiting is of great value for AHSFC and all other PFA members as it is an integral part of the PFA members' business strategy. Together, they provide on average 6 million affordable meals per day, of which 5.5 million contribute to food security in Africa.


The incident has had major consequences for AHSFC: 

  • The quantities lost  have been recorded in the vessel’s log book and have been deducted from the vessel’s quota, which severely restricts its remaining available fishing volumes ;
  • It is also a loss of turnover because the lost fish were intended for sale;
  • This incident also had significant organisational consequences, again resulting in losses: immobilisation of the boat and the incapacity to fish while the trawl was being repaired, modification of the fishing plan.


The Atlantic High Sea Fishing Company is committed to full, open and transparent cooperation with all authorities involved. The PFA along with all its members support the AHSFC’s position and also stand ready to be of service to the authorities.


Please find here the PDF version.



4 February 2022



Yesterday, images of dead fish in the Bay of Biscay were shared by Sea Shepherd, coinciding with fishing activities by - among others - PFA members’ vessels. The PFA fully understands the emotions such images can bring.


We would like to clarify that around 5.50am on 3 February 2022, an amount of blue whiting was involuntarily released into the sea from the Margiris vessel, due to a rupture in the cod-end part of its net. Such an accident is a rare occurrence and in this case was caused by the unexpectedly large size of the fish caught. In line with EU law, the incident and the quantities lost have been recorded in the vessel’s log book and reported to the authorities of the vessel’s flag state, Lithuania.


Blue whiting is a target species which is of great value to our members. Moreover, it is a quota species and as such the lost fish will be deducted from the vessel’s quota. It is not in our members’ interest to lose any fish they take on board and we regret that this fish will now not be available for human consumption. The Margiris has implemented drastic measures to prevent similar accidents in the future. The trawls have been adapted so that they are able to deal with the exceptional size of the fish currently in the area concerned.


The PFA and its members remain committed to responsible and sustainable fisheries and will continue to work closely together with the public authorities and all stakeholders.




Les membres de la Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) comprennent pleinement l’émotion suscité par les images filmées dans le Golfe de Gascogne, diffusées hier par l’association Sea Shepherd. Voici un bref exposé des faits détaillant la situation.


Le Margiris, un navire membre de la PFA, se trouvant au large de la Rochelle suite à des rapports faisant état d’importants bancs de poisson dans cette zone, a subi un incident de pêche à 5:50GMT. Le navire à instantanément prévenu les autorités compétentes de la survenue de cet incident.


Fait rarissime, le chalut contenant des merlans bleus – une espèce soumise à quotas – s’est brisé accidentellement, relâchant ainsi de manière involontaire des poissons en mer. Cette rupture de chalut s’explique notamment par la densité substantielle et inhabituelle dans cette zone, du banc de poisson ciblé. 


Conformément à la législation européenne, l’événement ainsi que les quantités pêchées ont été consignés dans le journal de bord du navire et signalés aux autorités lituaniennes, pays d’immatriculation du navire. Les quantités perdues lors de cet incident ont également été consignées dans le « log book » (carnet de capture) et seront déduites des quotas légaux attribués au navire. Nous regrettons que ce poisson ne soit donc pas disponible pour la consommation humaine.


Face à cet incident, le Margiris a mis en place des mesures drastiques pour éviter que cela ne se reproduise. Les traits de chalut sont d’ores et déjà fortement réduits et les capteurs de remplissage ont été mis à jour pour être en bonne adéquation avec la densité exceptionnelle des bancs sur cette zone.


La PFA, avec tous ses membres, est engagée dans une démarche de pêche responsable et durable et est pleinement engagée aux côtés des pouvoirs publics et de la Commission Européenne pour collectivement préserver les océans et leurs ressources.



-      (NL/EN)

-      (FR)



Please find below the PDF of our statement:




(Dutch) We are hiring: Vacature beleidsmedewerker RVZ/PFA

25 January 2022

Vacature beleidsmedewerker Redersvereniging voor de Zeevisserij (RVZ) / Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) Klik hier voor de PDF versie


De RVZ/PFA is op zoek naar een energieke jonge professional die met ons de belangen wil behartigen van de Nederlandse pelagische visserijbedrijven en van hun dochter-ondernemingen in het buitenland.


Voel je je thuis in de wereld waar politiek en overheid, wetenschap, bedrijfsleven, belangen-organisaties en ngo’s bij elkaar komen? Zet je graag je tanden in complexe Europese en internationale besluitvormingsprocessen? Wil je tastbaar bijdragen aan een duurzame visserij? Dan is werken bij een van de belangrijkste visserijorganisaties in Europa iets voor jou!


De RVZ en de PFA

De RVZ is de belangenbehartiger en producentenorganisatie (voor het quotumbeheer) van de pelagische rederijen in Nederland[1], de PFA is daarvan het verlengstuk als internationale belangenbehartiger namens dezelfde rederijen én hun dochterondernemingen in de pelagische visserij in het buitenland (Duitsland, Frankrijk, Litouwen, Polen en het Verenigd Koninkrijk). Onze leden zijn succesvolle, verticaal geïntegreerde familiebedrijven die zich bezighouden met het vangen, verwerken, distribueren en exporteren van pelagische vis zoals haring, makreel, blauwe wijting, horsmakreel en sardines. Pelagische vissoorten worden in het wild gevangen (niet voor kweek), migreren over grote afstanden en zwemmen in grote, dichte scholen. PFA-leden vissen alleen voor menselijke consumptie en leveren een belangrijke bijdrage aan de voedselzekerheid in vooral West-Afrikaanse landen.


De RVZ/PFA en haar leden staan voor verantwoordelijke visserij. Pelagische visserij is efficiënt, heeft geen impact op de zeebodem, kent een zeer lage bijvangst en heeft de laagste CO2-voetafdruk van alle vormen van dierlijke eiwittenproductie. We vinden het cruciaal dat het visserijbeheer goed wetenschappelijk onderbouwd is. Daarom helpen we met ons eigen onderzoeksprogramma onder leiding van een topvisserijwetenschapper ervoor te zorgen dat de visserij steeds gegevensrijker wordt.


Het RVZ/PFA-team heeft zijn thuisbasis in Zoetermeer en bestaat momenteel uit 7 personen: voorzitter, beleidsmedewerker (deze functie), chief science officer, medewerker arbeidszaken, communicatiemedewerker, financieel medewerker, office manager. Uiteraard werken we veel samen met de medewerkers van onze Nederlandse leden in IJmuiden, Den Haag (Scheveningen) en Katwijk (Valkenburg). Meer informatie over onze werkzaamheden is te vinden op en onze Twitter- (@PFA_eu) en LinkedIn-pagina’s.



De functie

De functie bestaat in grote lijnen uit twee sets van werkzaamheden:


1) Beleidsbeïnvloeding en onderhandelingen

Samen met de voorzitter van de RVZ/PFA zorg je voor het totstandkomen en uitdragen van onze standpunten ten aanzien van beleidsvoorstellen en internationale onderhandelingen. Je neemt daartoe onder meer deel aan overleggen van internationale koepelorganisaties en adviescommissies en bent ook als waarnemer aanwezig bij onderhandelingen tussen de EU en andere partijen. Actuele en terugkerende onderwerpen, vaak met veel (politieke) gevoeligheden gepaard, zijn de evaluatie van het Europese Visserijbeleid, de nieuwe samenwerkingsrelatie na Brexit tussen de EU en het Verenigd Koninkrijk, gezamenlijk visserijbeheer in de Noordatlantische Oceaan en de Noordzee met de andere ‘kuststaten’ (naast de EU Noorwegen, VK, IJsland, Faeröer, Groenland en Rusland) en de visserij-mogelijkheden onder de partnerschapsakkoorden van de EU met Marokko en Mauritanië (hiervoor ben je namens de PFA de eerste contactpersoon voor de Europese Commissie).


2) Quotumbeheer

De RVZ heeft als producentenorganisatie de taak om de aan de pelagische rederijen in Nederland verstrekte visquota te beheren. Jij bent hierin de spil. Je zorgt ervoor dat de rederijen hun vismachtigingen ontvangen van de overheid, dat zij niet meer vangen dan zij wettelijk beschikbaar hebben en je optimaliseert waar mogelijk de inzet van de quota. Dat wil zeggen dat je binnen de wettelijke kaders (hoofdzakelijk de jaarlijkse EU-verordening over de vangstmogelijkheden) bijvoorbeeld gericht gebruik maakt van flexibiliteit tussen jaren en visgebieden en dat je de coördinatie voert en onderhandelt over ruilen met andere partijen, meestal in het buitenland. Deze ruilen lopen via de EU-lidstaten en daarom onderhoud je een actieve samenwerkingsrelatie met de Nederlandse overheid, in het bijzonder de Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO).


De RVZ/PFA is een flexibele werkgever die aantrekkelijke, marktconforme arbeids-voorwaarden biedt. Zo kunnen passende afspraken worden gemaakt over gedeeltelijk thuis werken en behoort een lease-auto tot de mogelijkheden.


Wie ben jij?

Je hebt een academisch werk-/denkniveau en zo’n 2 tot 5 jaar werkervaring. Belangrijke competenties die je bezit zijn netwerkvaardigheid, samenwerken, analytisch vermogen, politiek-bestuurlijke sensitiviteit, helder communiceren in het Nederlands en in het Engels, overtuigingskracht en initiatief nemen. Je bent in staat om nauwkeurig te werken met cijfers en om de langetermijneffecten van kortetermijnacties te voorzien. Je bent bekend met Nederlandse en Europese besluitvorming en kunt een gefundeerd oordeel geven over beleidsvoorstellen (kennis van visserijbeleid is een pré). Met regelmaat in Brussel of elders in het buitenland verblijven is geen probleem voor je en geeft je juist extra energie. Je houdt van divers werk en schakelt makkelijk tussen je taken. Maar vooral ga je graag de uitdaging aan om mee te werken aan toekomstbestendig visserijbeheer in Europa, met als doel dat onze leden duurzaam kunnen blijven ondernemen.



Ben jij wie we zoeken? Stuur dan uiterlijk 20 februari een korte motivatiebrief en je CV naar, t.n.v. Tim Heddema, voorzitter RVZ/PFA. Wil je meer weten voordat je besluit te reageren? Neem dan gerust contact op via genoemd e-mailadres of telefonisch: +31625045602.


[1] Cornelis Vrolijk/Jaczon, Parlevliet & Van der Plas en W. van der Zwan & Zn.


Industry data central to new scientific paper on herring

10 January 2022

Industry data central to new scientific paper on herring


The European pelagic fishing industry is committed to improving scientific understanding of pelagic fish. The PFA takes a leading role in harnessing data and knowledge for science, because this is essential to maintaining sustainable fisheries for pelagic fish stocks.


In December 2021, the ICES Journal of Marine Science published a scientific paper about variability in the fat content of Atlantic herring as revealed by routine industry monitoring. The paper is the first result of a PhD studentship co-funded by the University of Aberdeen, the PFA and the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA). This PhD studentship aims to explore the biological and ecological applicability of industry-collected data on herring and mackerel.


The PFA’s Chief Science Officer Martin Pastoors and his counterpart at the SPFA (Steve Mackinson) played an important role in the realization of the scientific research by making the industry-collected data available for analysis. The muscle fat data of herring was collected by Scottish and Dutch pelagic trawlers during the herring and mackerel fisheries between 2005 and 2020.


The study

Fat content in fish provides an indication of the condition of individual fish and, in many fish species, forms the basis of the annual reproductive cycle. Fat content is not routinely measured in scientific surveys but it is routinely measured in commercial pelagic fisheries.


For this study, fat measurements of herring by the Scottish and Dutch fishing industries were used to compare patterns in fat content throughout the year. The fat content of herring increased from 4.5% in May to 16.1% in June and then decreased again to 9% in September. The fat content in some years deviated from the average pattern. Research into possible explanations for these deviations is still ongoing. The study validates the scientific use of routinely collected fat content data from pelagic fish processors.


Martin Pastoors emphasized once again the importance of collaboration between science and the pelagic fishing industry:


“This study shows that the fishing industry can contribute unique types of data to scientific research, which can improve our understanding of fish stocks. It is exciting to see how data that has been collected by so many different processors, when brought together, suddenly forms a powerful source of information. This also shows that there are great benefits in cooperating between different processors: the sum of the collective is clearly larger than the sum of the different parts.”


Follow the PFA on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about ongoing interesting research projects regarding pelagic fisheries.





Tim Heddema succeeds Gerard van Balsfoort as PFA president

3 January 2022

Tim Heddema is the new president of the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA), which represents the interests of 9 European pelagic freezer-trawler companies that fish for human consumption. He succeeds Gerard van Balsfoort, who was the PFA’s president since 2006. Heddema joined the PFA in August as vice-president, after a civil service career in which he most recently served as an agriculture and fisheries diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in London and at the Dutch Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels.


Tim Heddema said: “It is a great pleasure to take over the PFA presidency. I want the PFA to continue to be a strong voice, at a crucial time for fisheries management in the Northeast Atlantic and North Sea areas. In a post-Brexit world, we must all work hard to strengthen the ties between all stakeholders, in the interest of sustainable and responsible fisheries. The PFA thanks Gerard van Balsfoort for his many years of leadership and tireless commitment to the pelagic fishing sector. Gerard has laid the best possible foundation for our team to achieve our goals and I am pleased that despite his retirement he will keep supporting us in the background.”


Gerard van Balsfoort was a leading figure in the European pelagic fishing sector for the past 16 years. He played an important role during the Brexit negotiations, representing the interests of fishing fleets of 9 EU member states as chairman of the European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA).


During his time as president of the PFA, Van Balsfoort also took on active roles in Europêche (vice-president), the European Association of Fish Producers Organisations (EAPO; Member of the Executive Committee and chair of the Northern Pelagic Working Group), the Pelagic Advisory Council (PelAC; Head of the Secretariat and Member of the Executive Committee), the Long Distance Advisory Council (LDAC;Member of the Executive Committee and chair of WG2) and the Dutch Fish Marketing Board (Board Member).



Please find here the PDF version.




For more information please contact
Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association / E: / website:


PFA responds to TNI report on Dutch pelagic fishing companies

27 December 2021

PFA responds to TNI report ‘Dangerously efficient industrial fishing: the threat of multinational Dutch fishing companies to European small-scale fisheries


In a recent publication, the Transnational Institute (TNI) argues that the catching capacity and efficiency of pelagic freezer-trawlers are in direct conflict with small-scale local fishers and that by definition they are dangerous for marine ecosystems and fish populations.


Unfortunately TNI, as it has made clear to the PFA, consciously chose to build a one-sided and biased narrative, taking the assumed perspective of its target audience, small-scale French fishers. The result is a series of misconceptions and inaccurate, incorrect, fact-free and scientifically unsupported statements about pelagic fishing and the PFA’s members.


The PFA subsequently engaged in a dialogue with TNI and we thank TNI for allowing our formal response to be published alongside the report on TNI’s website. In our response, we extensively show that

  • pelagic fishing is not in competition with small-scale fishing (we operate outside the coastal areas and target different stocks, on different fishing grounds and for entirely different markets)
  • scientifically sound stock management is at the heart of our responsible operations (not the size of a vessel but quotas dictate catching capacity; we advocate sustainable fisheries, also through the Pelagic Advisory Council made up of industry, ngo’s and scientists; pelagic stocks are in better shape than demersal stocks)
  • the environmental impact of pelagic fishing is actually the lowest of all fisheries (very low by-catch rates; no discarding allowed; no damage to seabed habitats; lowest carbon footprint of all animal protein production)
  • There is nothing unusual, let alone illegal, about lobbying for sustainable fishing opportunities and about international acquisitions based on the mutual interest of buyer and seller
  • Allegations of illegal practices are either unproven or misrepresented


Direct links to the PFA’s response are here (English) and here (French).


TNI’s publication is also available in English (here) and French (here).



PFA participates in Virtual Reality project to bring emergencies training to a higher level

1 December 2021

Safety on-board and high social standards is a top priority for the PFA and its members. Therefore, we are continuously looking to improve our already very high standard for working conditions and safety protocols on board.

That is why the PFA, together with some EU fishing industry partners, participates in the Virtual Reality for Maritime Emergencies project (VR-ME). The VR-ME project aims to develop a realistic environment based on a trawler fishing vessel, accessible through a Virtual Reality kit.


Emergency situations on board of fishing vessels are stressful situations in which the crew must follow specific guidelines and procedures to assure their safety. In this project, we have the objective to develop a safety procedures training that uses VR to present our crew with a series of scenarios, such as abandoning the vessel, firefighting and launching a life raft. This way, it will become easier to offer more safety training, and to do so in a way that is also more safe in itself.

Cor Blonk is involved on behalf of the PFA and emphasizes the importance of the project:


“It is of paramount importance to be familiar with the safety procedures on board in order to be able to act quickly and decisively in case of an emergency. Acting quickly and correctly can limit the consequences of an emergency and avoid or minimize injury and damage, especially at sea where help is not readily available. With virtual reality we add a tool that allows our fishers to train emergency situations in a safe environment where one can still have the feeling of being involved 'in real life'. Emergency training not only helps the fishers with knowledge and skills on how to act, but also give fishers more self-confidence to take action in a real emergency situation.

The first test results are promising. Based on the first tests, the scenarios will be developed further, after which we will test them with (prospective) fishers in France, Spain and the Netherlands. Eventually, this should lead to a training programme that will be available free of charge late 2022. The only thing needed is Oculus Quest VR-glasses.“

For more info visit the website Virtual Reality for Maritime Emergencies, where you can sign up for the newsletter, or follow the project on LinkedIn and/or Twitter (@VRME_EU).

Other project partners:



PFA conducts genetic research on populations of pelagic fish

16 November 2021

PFA conducts genetic research on populations of pelagic fish


Strengthening the knowledge base on populations of pelagic fish like herring and horse mackerel is important to the management of stocks and therefore also for the PFA.


Since 2015 we have been investing into genetic research on the different populations of herring and horse mackerel. While substantial progress has been made on the genetic techniques to discriminate between populations, an important bottleneck remained with regards to the collection of genetic samples.

Such data collection was very laborious and therefore quite difficult to organize. In collaboration with different fishing industry partners, genetic experts and a laboratory tools supplier, a breakthrough has been achieved in the collection of genetic samples. Genetic tissue can now be extracted from individual fish with simple, ready-made test tubes.


In the picture, the PFA Chief Science Officer Martin Pastoors is taking some genetic tissue samples of herring at the Lab facilities of Wageningen Marine Research. This opens up exciting new ways of addressing questions about the mixing of different populations in different seasons and areas.


Accumulating knowledge and data for further scientific research is essential for a responsible and sustainable fishery targeting pelagic fish stocks. The PFA and their members are committed to collaborate with science so that future generations can also benefit from the sea as a source of food and income.


Fishing sector and educators work together for sustainable fishing training

9 November 2021

The PFA is a partner in the project Catching The Potential, a cooperative effort of the fishing sector and educators to develop and implement an effective, international standard for sustainable fishing training for fishers.


On Tuesday 4 and Friday 5 November project partners from Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands, together with representatives from the Dutch fisheries school joined a seminar to share views on and experiences in sustainable fisheries. The participants experienced a taste of the Dutch sustainable fishing course ‘Fishing with future’ and a visit to the fish auction and a fishing vessel in IJmuiden.


The PFA takes part in Catching The Potential to share the knowledge gained in 'Fishing with a Future' with international partners and to contribute to the realisation of a standard for sustainable fishing in international conventions, such as the STCW-F. This concerns education not only on the management of fish stocks, but also on sustainable business operations and the position of fishers.


More information can be found at or visit our partners:


European CommissionEuropêche, Catching The PotentialCEFCM Novikontas Training Center,  Bord Iascaigh Mhara - Ireland's Seafood Development AgencyCentro Tecnológico del Mar FUNDACIÓN CETMAREnaleia Berufsbildungszentrum am Nord-Ostsee-KanalProSea Marine Education 


World Fisheries Congress 2021: fisheries responsible for monitoring

23 September 2021

This week marks the 8th World Fisheries Congress held this year – online - in Adelaide, Australia. It is the largest congress bringing together the global fisheries community to explore, discuss and debate key innovations, latest research, challenges and opportunities facing the global fisheries community today. PFA’s own Chief Science Officer Martin Pastoors was invited to this congress to give an insightful presentation on monitoring approaches initiated within pelagic fisheries.


The European pelagic fishing industry is committed to improve monitoring activities of our fisheries by introducing a comprehensive self-sampling program. The program aims at generating and contributing to existing data on fishing activities, catch compositions and specific biological observations for scientific evaluations. The presentation aimed to highlight the benefits and drawbacks (challenges) from including fishers in monitoring fishing operations. The information was based on experiences in pelagic fisheries in Europe.


Working closely with fishing industries to monitor catches and fishing operations is an effective mechanism for monitoring. New types of industry information become available and it also helps to harness new data sources and knowledge for improved scientific understanding.


The ambition of the PFA is to maintain a sustainable fishery for pelagic fish stocks, both now and in the future. Collaboration with science and research is an important requirement for that ambition. We are proud that with the pioneering work of our Chief Science Officer Martin Pastoors, the PFA takes a leading role in accumulating knowledge and data for further scientific research.


Find more information about our research program on our research page.




EU fishing industry calls for immediate EU action against Norway and Faroe Islands

2 September 2021



EU fishing industry calls for immediate EU action against Norway and Faroe Islands to stop their overfishing of the Northeast Atlantic mackerel stock

The EU fishing industry is calling for immediate EU action to stop Norway and Faroe Islands in their massive overfishing of the Northeast Atlantic mackerel stock. We reiterate our call on the EU Commission and Council to act swiftly and decisively on this reckless and irresponsible behaviour by using the instruments at its disposal such as trade measures and the IUU regulation.

In May of this year first Norway and then Faroe Islands decided to unilaterally increase their share in the mackerel fishery by 55% each. Now the fleets of Norway and Faroe Islands, but also the fleets of Iceland, Russia and Greenland, are massively targeting mackerel with as many vessels as possible. To a large extent their fisheries also take place in international waters. If this reckless and irresponsible behaviour continues with these coastal states fully utilising es their inflated, unjustified quota shares, the total mackerel catch will be 42% higher than the scientific advice that was agreed in November 2020 by all parties.

Gerard van Balsfoort, chair of the EU pelagic industry, organized under the banner of EAPO and Europêche, comments: “The EU cannot and should not let this form of extreme overfishing continue by these coastal states which is contrary to UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and particularly the 1995 Stradling Stocks Agreement. I find it incredible that at the same time as acting in such an irresponsible manner they portray themselves to be sustainable and responsible nations. There is no way Norway can defend itself for taking almost 300,000 tons or 35% of the scientifically advised total mackerel quota of 852,000 tons and then fish most of it in the international waters outside their 200 miles zone. Norway happily continues to export huge amounts of their seafood, including farmed salmon, to the EU market as if this is business as usual. The EU must immediately start using its power as the world’s largest import market for seafood and take action to stop such reckless and irresponsible behaviour”.


Click here for the PDF


Gerard van Balsfoort /

T +31 651 411 431 /




WorldFish & FAO: Aquatic food important to secure global food security

14 July 2021

Aqua foods offer great game-changing solutions to help realise global food security. During a webinar of UN Food Systems Summit Science Day, a side event hosted by WorldFish and FAO, many researchers in aquatic foods gave their view on how aquatic food systems can achieve the goals of the 2030 agenda. The goal is to nourish all people in a sustainable way.


The role of aquatic food is very important in the food systems transformation. Especially because  people are consuming aquatic food more than ever. This means that fish consumption has a large net contribution to food and nutritious security in the world.


Aquatic foods play an essential role in reducing hunger and poverty. The world population is growing to 10 billion people, and effective and sustainable food systems are these days more important than ever. There are several arguments why aquatic foods can play a role in this. One of them is that aquatic food has a much lower carbon impact than productions on land. In addition, the nutritional value of fish products beyond protein is also very significant, although this is not well-recognized in many food systems strategies.


FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Resources Division director Manuel Barange emphasized that the aquatic sector is fully recognizing the contribution to fight poverty, hunger, malnutrition and commitment to sustainability. He pointed out that it is important to educate consumers and developing a vision where aquatic food is part of a solution and not just a part of the problem. He said that we need to promote the dialogue and collaboration between all stakeholders to enhance sustainability.


World Prize-awarded nutrition scientist Shakuntala Thilsted and FAO Food Security & Nutrition Specialist Molly Ahern spoke about the role of aquatic foods in sustainable healthy diets. They pointed out that current food systems fail to recognize the diversity of aqua foods and their potential for sustainable healthy diets. The nutritional value of fish have the potential to benefit during people’s lifetime. Eating fish causes significant benefits to cognitive development and reducing blood pressure and cholesterol.


Aqua foods such as small fish, including small pelagic fish such as herring and mackerel, are full of vitamins and minerals that are important for human health. The PFA is pleased that in this way the health benefits of pelagic fish are being promoted by globally recognized scientists. 


All the presentations of nourishing people and planet with aquatic foods can be viewed via the WorldFish YouTube channel:



World Population Day: PFA members make substantial contribution to global food security

11 July 2021

Today 11 July is World Population Day. This day aims to increase people's awareness on the growing world population.


Fifty years ago, there were 3 billion people to feed. Nowadays, that is already 7.7 billion people and in thirty years this will probably be around 10 billion people.


The United Nations wants the world to be hunger-free by 2030. However, with the ever-growing global population on our planet, this is a major challenge.


How do PFA-members make a substantial contribution to global food security?


  • The PFA-members fish only for human consumption;
  • PFA members provide on average 6 million fish meals per day;
  • 5.5 million of this fish meals is sent to markets outside Europe, especially those with a low average income such as Ghana, Egypt and Nigeria;
  • That is 2.5 billion fish meals in a year;
  • Pelagic fish is high quality, healthy and affordable fish;
  • Pelagic fish contains a lot of proteins with high level omega 3 fatty acids;
  • Pelagic fish is because of the large amount of vitamins and minerals essential for a good human health;
  • The World Food prize of this year will be awarded to a nutrition scientist because of her research about positive contribution of aqua food to human health;
  • Pelagic fisheries by PFA is done in a sustainable way - Catch with Care;
  • Pelagic fish such as herring have the lowest CO2 footprint compared to any other animal protein;
  • PFA is well-advanced in the self-sampling of its fisheries. The collected data are inserted in stock assessment of pelagic stocks;
  • PFA works closely with marine research institutes and NGO’s;


PFA contributes to achieve global food security: now and in the future.


/media/afbeeldingen/PFA World Population Day image.jpg


Gerard van Balsfoort keynote speaker City University of London

14 June 2021

Gerard van Balsfoort keynote speaker City University of London


This week, Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) president Gerard van Balsfoort had been the keynote speaker on a webinar of The City of Law School – University of London. This webinar was part of a workshop about Legal Challenges Faced by Coastal and Fishing Communities, Brexit, and the New British Fisheries Policy.


This workshop aimed to bring together different leading fisheries experts from academia, industry, and policy to share their expertise, views and experience on the challenges and consequences that Brexit brought after the United Kingdom left the Common Fisheries Policy.


In his role as a leading person in the EU fishing industry (chair European Union Fisheries Alliance / vice-president Europêche), Van Balsfoort spoke about what Brexit has brought the UK and EU fishing industries with the title: Why is (almost) everybody complaining?


He noted that after Brexit virtually everyone in the EU and UK seafood industries  - with the notable exception of the Scottish pelagic fishing companies – was complaining and found themselves in a rather dire situation. He also noted that the UK as a new coastal state in the Northeast Atlantic really has stirred up an already complex fisheries management system. We have seen one consequence of this already by the unilateral increase by Norway and the Faroe Islands of their respective mackerel shares with 55%.


Van Balsfoort pointed to the fact that the EU and the UK share a very large number of fish stocks that need joint, proper management and that would only be possible by accepting that both parties are heavily interlinked with many mutual dependencies: one is more dependent on access to the other party’s waters and the other more on access to the other party’s market. To be constructive, collaborative and reasonable is the only way forward to avoid a situation that fish stocks are badly managed.

He concluded by stating that:


  1. the UK government badly failed in its expectation management towards its own fishing industry which has led to overpromising and underdelivering. This needs time to heal.
  2. the process by which the UK will find its place as a new coastal state among the other coastal states in the Northeast Atlantic will take time. During this time a turbulent situation in the Northeast Atlantic, when it comes to fisheries management, is to be expected.
  3. the EU has for the first time played strongly and successfully trade as a trump card during the negotiations on the Brexit fisheries agreement. As far as the EU fishing industry is concerned trade will be centrally placed in future fisheries negotiations from now on. In other words, access to the Single Market comes with a price.


The results of this workshop with different webinars will lead to the publication of the “Fisheries in a Post-Brexit World – Economic, Legal and Policy Implications for the UK and the EU” monograph by Routledge.


EU fishermen strongly reject Norway’s unilateral mackerel quota grab and call for immediate EU actio

28 May 2021

28 May 2021


EU fishermen strongly reject Norway’s unilateral mackerel quota grab and call for immediate EU action


The EU pelagic fishing industry, organized under the banners of EAPO and Europêche, strongly rejects the decision made public yesterday by the Norwegian government to unilaterally increase Norway’s share in the mackerel fishery by 55% and is calling on the EU to take immediate action by whatever means to stop it.

Today, Norway decided to go its own way on mackerel by deciding to increase its quota share by 55% from 191,843 tonnes to 298,299 tonnes. The mackerel stock is highly migratory and widely distributed passing through the waters of several coastal states in the Northeast Atlantic. Since 2014, EU, Norway and Faroe Islands have managed to agree on a joint sharing and management arrangement. Unfortunately, Iceland, Russia and Greenland have never been part of this arrangement.

Gerard van Balsfoort, chair of the EU pelagic industry, comments: “Norway’s unilateral increase by 55% of its share in the Northeast Atlantic mackerel fishery is a new low in our fisheries relations and totally undermines the effective management of our shared and widely distributed pelagic stocks. The EU should seriously consider to use its power as the world’s largest import market for seafood to take action to stop such reckless and irresponsible behaviour by Norway”.

Since 1 January this year, the UK has left the EU and became a new and independent coastal state. Everybody knew that this would create new uncertainties for all players in the Northeast Atlantic as the UK had to establish new fisheries relationships with the other coastal states, among them Norway. Until now it has not been possible for the UK to reach a fisheries agreement for 2021 with its direct neighbours Faroe Islands, Norway and the EU. UK’s negotiations with Faroe Islands and Norway have now officially been terminated without an agreement, while negotiations between the UK and EU are still ongoing.

Gerard van Balsfoort concludes that “it is extremely disappointing that Norway, that markets itself and its seafood products worldwide as the nation with the most prudent and responsible fisheries management system, now has chosen to act in such an irresponsible manner. It seems that Norway has left the path of constructive collaboration with other coastal states. The first signal of this was given already around Christmas last year when Norway unilaterally decided to unlawfully grab part of the Svalbard cod quota allocated to the EU for its own benefit”.



Gerard van Balsfoort

T +31 651 411 431



Press release EAPO - Europeche: pdf


World Food Prize 2021 awarded to nutrition scientist WorldFish

14 May 2021


World Food Prize 2021 awarded to nutrition scientist WorldFish


This year’s World Food Prize will be awarded to a nutrition scientist who researched the positive contribution of aqua food to human health. On May 11, it was announced that Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Tilsted will receive the prize for her ground-breaking research, critical insights and innovations in aquatic food systems, including fisheries and aquaculture.

Dr. Thilsted was one of the first scientists to establish that small fish is an important source of various essential nutrients and fatty acids. Aqua foods such as small fish, including small pelagic fish such as herring and mackerel, are full of vitamins and minerals that are important for human health. Her research has transformed scientific insights into the nutritional benefits of fish. The research insights of Dr. Thilsted also led to an evolution in the food systems from ‘feeding’ to ‘nourishing’. In other words: from just feeding to the targeted provision of nutrients that ensure a good and healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Thilsted has worked for WorldFish for over ten years. WorldFish is an international non-profit research organization that does a lot of research into aqua food in developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. For more than 45 years, this organizations has been researching how sustainable aquacultures and fishing can contribute to the food of millions of people in these countries.

WorldFish has a long history of projects in Africa, including Nigeria. Fish is very important to this most densely populated country of Africa, because fish consumption accounts for 40% of the country’s total protein intake. The people of Nigeria consume 13.3 kg of fish per person per year. About 40% of this fish is small pelagic fish (Sources: WorldFish, FAO).

Following to the announcement of this prestigious award to Dr. Thilsted, Gerard van Balsfoort, chairman of the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association, says:

“I am proud that the members of the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association are able to provide by way of their sustainable and responsible pelagic fishing operations, many millions of healthy protein-rich and affordable fish meals on a daily basis to consumers in many developing countries, including Nigeria.”

The PFA wishes Dr. Thilsted every success with her further research and other activities.

About the World Food Prize

Since 1986, the World Food Prize is an international award recognizing scientist and other individuals for important achievements in the availability and quality of foods. The ceremony will take place in October this year.

Other links:



Infographic: Pelagic fishing is sustainable fishing

23 July 2020

Our latest infographic provides the key facts that support and outline PFA members’ commitment to applying the latest research and cutting edge technology to ensure their fishing operations are sustainable. PFA Infographic.pdf


PFA members work with world-leading scientists and fisheries management experts to ensure that our catch is selective, avoids bycatch and does no damage to the areas in which we fish.


You can find out more about the PFA’s plan of action, research and contribution to sustainable fishing here (link naar


Open letter to Greenpeace UK to join forces for sustainable fisheries

26 June 2020

26-6-2020 Open letter to Greenpeace UK to join forces for sustainable fisheries


The Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) has published an open letter calling for Greenpeace UK to enter into a dialogue in the interest of heathy oceans and sustainable fishing operations in UK waters. This call follows the publication of an inaccurate and misleading report by the campaign group on fishing in Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) earlier this month.


Greenpeace’s report contains a number of false statements and inaccuracies about the operations of pelagic freezer trawlers across Europe, all of whom are fishing legally, sustainably and within quota based on scientific advice.


The report also contradicts a Memorandum of Understanding the PFA and its member companies signed with Greenpeace in the Netherlands in August 2016, which is still in function. The MoU recognizes the leading role the PFA and its members take in ensuring sustainable fisheries; both in the collection of scientific data and scientific research on (pelagic) resources; improving selectivity and avoiding bycatch; and in contributing to effective fisheries management in all regions where PFA members have a pelagic fishing operation.


Press release:

PFA press release on open letter to Greenpeace.pdf


Open letter to Greenpeace:

Open letter to Greenpeace UK.pdf


Factsheet fiction versus fact statement:
Fiction versus facts UK MPA.pdf






Artikel vijf jaar self-sampling in de pelagische visserij uit Visserijnieuws 5 juni 2020

9 June 2020

Artikel vijf jaar self-sampling in de pelagische visserij: PFA Selfsampling.pdf


Press release: PFA introduces pingers as precautionary measure to avoid bycatch of dolphins

24 March 2020

Press release PFA: Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association introduces pingers as precautionary measure to avoid bycatch of dolphins
20200312 - press release pingers PFA


EU fishing industry response to COVID-19 crisis

17 March 2020


EU fishing industry response to COVID-19 crisis

20200317 - Industry response Impact of COVID-19 on the fishery sector.pdf


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.


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




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