A group of small-scale fishermen from north Jutland yesterday staged a protest by occupying the offices of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen, demanding that beam trawlers be excluded from the Skagerrak.
The small-scale coastal fishermen from Hanstholm, Thorup Strand, Løkken, Hirtshals and Skagen in northern Jutland occupied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen, the national authority responsible for fisheries. Their goal is to draw attention to an what they describe as an environmental disaster taking place in the Skagerrak, and they are demanding the expulsion of the Dutch beam trawl fleet that they feel is causing it.
‘We simply can’t make a living any more. The seabed is being destroyed and the fish are gone. Now the responsible authorities must act,’ said Thorup Strand fisherman and the group’s spokesman Jesper Olsen.
According to the group, the Dutch beam trawl fleet normally fishes in the southern North Sea, but they started to appear on Danish grounds three years ago.
With poor catches further south as pulse trawling is restricted ahead of an all-out prohibition, they Jutland fishermen say that some pulse vessel owners decided convert to relocate to the Skaggerak in search of better fishing.
The status of plaice and sole stocks in the southern North Sea is a cause for concern, with Dutch pulse vessels and beam trawlers only able to catch between 60% and 70% of their quotas.
‘Beam trawlers must leave the Skagerrak for good. Neither the fish and the marine environment nor the small-scale fishermen will survive if they stay,’ said Hanstholm fisherman Henry Fjord.
The Danish fishermen are calling for an immediate halt to the destruction of the marine environment and their fishing grounds; they demand that the Skagerrak is closed to beam trawling.