The Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) has extended an invitation to Greenpeace UK, pointing out that the NGO has published inaccurate and misleading information as part of its campaign group on fishing activity in Marine Protected Areas.
According to PFA president Gerard van Balsfoort, the report comes as an unwelcome surprise, not least as the Greenpeace UK report contradicts a Memorandum of Understanding the PFA and its member companies signed with Greenpeace in the Netherlands in August 2016, lasting for ten years.
‘The MoU recognises 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 by-catch; and in contributing to effective fisheries management in all regions where PFA members have a pelagic fishing operation,’ he said, commenting that the Greenpeace UK report contains a number of false statements and inaccuracies about the operations of pelagic freezer-trawlers across Europe.’
He commented that Greenpeace UK’s recent campaign calls for a ban on “supertrawlers” larger than 100 metres entering UK Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), even though pelagic fishing has no impact on the seabed habitats that virtually all MPAs in UK waters are designated to protect.
‘This call for a ban and the objective of the campaign is not based on any scientific advice or logic,’ he said.
‘We are surprised and disappointed that Greenpeace UK’s current campaign goes entirely against the intention and ambitions as set out in our MoU. The misuse of images of our vessels to mobilise public opinion on a campaign that is based on fiction and half-truths which arbitrarily targets pelagic, non-UK flagged, vessels larger than 100 metres, leaves aside the many other pelagic vessels under UK flag that fish with the same nets, for the same species, in the same areas’ Gerard van Balsfoort said.
‘The PFA and its members take a leading role in sustainable fisheries, catching fish for human consumption and directly contributing to the food security in markets much in need of healthy and affordable animal protein. We urge Greenpeace UK to enter into a dialogue with us in the interests of healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries, but also because we need the contribution of pelagic fisheries to keep guaranteeing global food security. If we can commit to working together, we are confident solutions will be easier to find.’
He said that pelagic trawlers use sophisticated sonar and other technologies to target large, dense schools of the same fish. This results in a catch that is clean, with hardly any by-catch of unwanted species.
‘PFA members also use the latest generation of pingers (acoustic deterrent devices) as precautionary measure in their fisheries to avoid potential by-catch of cetaceans in the areas west of Scotland and Ireland and in the Channel and Biscay areas.’