The Dutch commercial fishing fleet will shrink by 10-15% over the next five years. Many fishermen struggle with money, in part due to declining turnover and high fuel costs. The financial support announced by the government will come too late for some fishermen, ABN Amro predicted based on its own research.
Around a third of anglers think they could face financial problems in the coming years. Brexit and the expansion of wind farms have also raised concerns among fishermen. The new distribution of fishing rights means that many fishermen are no longer allowed to catch as many fish as before Brexit.
ABN Amro also expects purchasing power to have a negative impact on fish demand at the end of this year. People may then have less money to spend in restaurants, for example. In the long term, demand in the Netherlands and other EU countries is expected to pick up. However, this will not prevent the contraction of fishing fleets, the bank thinks.
Vessels that continue to meet the demand for fish will need to innovate and become more sustainable, the bank said. This is also what the national government believes. According to the bank, fishermen should be given the opportunity to experiment, for example by fishing near wind farms.
In July, the Cabinet received clearance from the European Union to buy out the troubled fishing companies. The Cabinet has made a total of 155 million euros available for this. Fishermen who have been affected to some extent by Brexit can apply for it as part of a restructuring plan.
A total of 250 companies are active in the Dutch fishing industry. The lion’s share of these are independent contractors who work with a single vessel. The sector represents 80 million kilograms of fish per year for a value of 250 million euros. A large part is exported to other EU countries.