Frustrated by their government’s failure to act on the issues facing the fishing industry, notably the sky-high cost of fuel that threatens the viability of many businesses, fishermen are blockading Dutch ports.
Fishermen’s organisation EMK is adamant that emergency relief is needed for the Dutch fishing industry.
Protests are taking place in IJmuiden, Harlingen and other ports, and the entry to the port of Lauwerszoog was blocked last night by fishing vessels.
‘If there isn’t concrete support soon, Dutch fishing will be heading for extinction. First it’s the farmers, and we are next in line. The government used to take care of food security, but not any more,’ said Robin Dekker, skipper of Eurocutter SL-23.
‘In the short term, the government must simply do what France and Germany are doing – provide fishing with fuel compensation. Europe can do that, so why is minister Staghouwer still hesitating? Does he also want to put us out of business, just like the farmers?’
High fuel prices are just one of the challenges facing Dutch fisheries, as the rapid construction of wind farms is taking away fishing grounds, while the construction work and cable-laying, plus additional marine traffic to and from construction areas, is seen as the long-term threat to the industry – while fuel is the immediate challenge.
‘What we need most for the long term is stability, with a clear, stable fisheries policy. No new surprises from Brussels or The Hague. That needs to start with a promise that there will be enough fishing space left for fishermen,’ he said.
‘At some point somewhere, will someone step on the brakes and come up with a solution? Fuel-efficient pulse technology, which we used to fish with, would have saved us from these high fuel prices. Just turn that light to green. After all the misery of the past few years, it’s time for the fishing got something back for all its efforts and hard work.’