Dutch fishermen’s movement EMK is planning to take its protest against the growth of North Sea wind farms and European fisheries policies to Amsterdam this summer with a public march through the capital to raise awareness of the challenges facing the industry.
Fishermen active in the North Sea, the Wadden See and the English Channel see the prospect of another hundred wind farms and even more MPAs as a serious threat to their livelihoods, along with the issue of the landing obligation that they claim will be a death knell for the fishing sector.
‘On 1 January 2019, we will have to land all undersized fish and non-commercial species for disposal. While juvenile fish in large quantities are now still going overboard to survive or become food for other marine life, this is a natural cycle. The Landing Obligation threatens to become an ecological disaster if small fish can no longer grow. The Landing Obligation has been imposed without scientific advice. It’s crazy,’ said EMK president Job Schot.
‘As a result of the wind farm construction, the southern North Sea has been lost,’ commented den Helder fisherman Dirk Kraak following recent consultation with government. ‘The government has refused to back down one millimetre. This consultation was simply window dressing.’
‘Fishermen have had enough,’ Job Schot added. ‘Their future, that of their children and their fishing communities are at stake.’
He commented that in recent decades, fishermen and fishermen’s organisations have worked with scientists, NGOs and governments to make the North Sea healthy. He said that after a restructuring that cost 50% of the fleet, strict fishing quotas and groundbreaking innovations such as pulse gear, North Sea fish stocks are abundant and in better shape than they have ever been.
‘Overfishing is a thing of the past. Almost 70 % of the catch is within MSY,’ he said, adding that a real concern is that environmental organisations remain silent on this.
‘A hundred wind farms in the North Sea do not only mean the end of fishing, as the marine environment is suffering serious damage. International research shows that birds, marine mammals, fish and bats are victims of windmills due to damage during construction, collisions, electromagnetic radiation and changing currents. Fish are also driven out of their traditional shallow spawning grounds and have nowhere to go when there are windmills everywhere,’ said Texel fisherman Koos Boersen.
The march in Amsterdam is scheduled to take place on Saturday 2nd June from 1100 to 1400 pm. Participating ishermen and sympathisers are asked to gather behind the Central Station, and a number of fishing vessels will also be present. Buses are being laid on for those wishing to travel from other parts of Holland to take part in the protest.