The Dutch Fishermen’s Association is lobbying to keep space in the North Sea for fisheries. With Brexit approaching and the mushrooming plans for wind farms, Natura 2000 areas, solar panels recent proposal for a runway at sea, more and more rich fishing grounds is being taken away.
‘These are undesirable development,’ said Johan Nooitgedagt, chairman of de Nederlandse Vissersbond, commenting that space is not unlimited and in addition to shipping, military training areas and sand, oil and gas extraction, fishermen have been using the North Sea since time immemorial.
‘The North Sea is the working area for fishermen. This field of activity is often overlooked by those developing new projects in sea areas,’ he said. ‘It is of great importance for this centuries-old profession to be able to continue and for the Dutch fisheries sector to be taken into account in negotiations about spatial planning at sea.’
He said that at the moment, expansion of wind farms in the North Sea is planned, set to grow from the current 957 megawatts to 4450 megawatts in 2023 and 11,450 megawatts in 2040. In addition, a pilot project will start this summer with a 2500 square metre floating solar power station.
‘Of course we would prefer that these activities continue on shore. If there is no other option than placing these economically interesting projects at sea, then it is possible to establish them in places where the least possible number of fishermen suffer,’ Johan Nooitgedagt said. De Nederlandse Vissersbond has value charts of the North Sea that detail the important fishing areas.
‘We would like the opportunity to present these maps prior to the decision-making process for new construction at sea,’ he said, adding that de Nederlandse Vissersbond is also concerned about the consequences of these new activities on life in and around the North Sea. ‘The construction and eventually the demolition of wind farms or the take-off and landing of aircraft can have a major impact on marine life. The short- and long-term effects need to be studied scientifically – not only for the conservation of current marine life, also for the food supply that could be be compromised.’