PFA English

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catching with care

The PFA: Catching with care Our oceans are home to a wealth of fish and shellfish, which make a vital contribution towards feeding a world population of 7 billion. They also provide a living for the fishing fleet, fishermen and their communities. The members of the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association catch fish in a sustainable manner, without causing damage to the seabed, without disturbing the ecological system and based on effective fish stock management. This means that future generations can also benefit from this valuable source of food and income. gerard van balsfoort, president pelagic freezertrawler association

The ability to contribute to future food supplies is essential, because by 2050 the world population will reach 9 billion. To do this doesn’t just need sustainable fishery methods and management; it also needs better cost-efficiencies so that fish can remain affordable. To some, the catching capacity of the fleet the PFA is representing appears to be enormous, but to put it into context, the combined catch of all affiliated fishing companies is just one and a half percent of the world’s pelagic fish catch.


These companies and the PFA are very aware of their responsibilities. PFA works closely with international scientists, environmental organisations, governments and fisheries management bodies to ensure that accurate research provides the information necessary to ensure sustainable fisheries and effective fish stock management, including the prevention of unintentional bycatch, in all the waters where we operate. We are proud that two of the fisheries by our companies bear the prestigious MSC label for sustainable fisheries: the North Atlantic herring and the North Sea herring. Our efforts are in response to the demands that society started making of the fishing industry after the dangers of overfishing were discussed during the UN Environment Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the subsequent UN world summit on sustainable development that took place in Johannesburg in 2002. Since then, governments, environmental organisations and the larger public have been carefully scrutinising the international fisheries sector. PFA attaches great value to the public debate, as such dialogue with observers keeps us focused.

In the coming years we will further expand our position in the international marketplace and continue to play a leading role in terms of a sustainable and responsible business practice. This encompasses many areas; for example the refrigeration equipment aboard the vessels of PFA members has been converted to an environmentally friendly operation and a number of innovations are helping to reduce fuel consumption and to further increase selective fishing. Another important focal point for the PFA members is the constant improvement of working and living conditions for crew on-board our vessels. When fishing in foreign waters, we engage local employees, which in turn provides a stimulus to local economies. In this publication we set out the main focus of our future policy, and take a look back at our recent efforts in the field of sustainability. We also include comment from representatives of several important organisations with whom we work, who elaborate on our activities and their impact on the environment and society. Check out the PFA’s current developments and activities at Gerard van Balsfoort, President Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association 3

Fishing for food The high quality fish caught by the PFA members and directly frozen on-board the vessels is solely intended for direct human consumption, rather than for conversion into fishmeal to feed farmed fish or animals. Some 90 percent of our fish is sent to markets outside Europe, especially those with a low average income such as Ghana, Egypt and Nigeria. Our fish is affordable and healthy and contains high-quality proteins together with high levels of omega 3 fatty acids that are an essential part of a good diet. Fish supplied by the PFA members provides no less than 6 million fish meals per day, 5.5 million of which are in Africa. This equates to 2.5 billion fish meals a year and in this way, PFA members offer a substantial contribution to global food security.


pfa offers a substantial contribution to global food security

5.500.000 fish meals in africa per day Species The vessels of PFA members targ et small pelagic fish such as herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, sardinell blue whiting, pilchard and silver sme a, lt.

Blue Whiting


Horse Mackerel



Sardine 5

Our choice – efficient food ­production at sea Pelagic fish such as North Sea herring swim in large dense schools. This means that the stocks we target are seasonally abundant in particular places, in large quantities, and at high concentrations. The fish are therefore caught in controlled quantities at the optimum time and place, over a relatively short period. The PFA shipowners deliberately choose to freeze the catch on-board, so we need to take our factory with us. The large size of vessels is therefore related to the on-board processing and storage facilities and is not related to the catching power of the vessel. The benefits of this strategy are that the fish are immediately frozen to maintain optimal freshness and the efficient on-board process also ensures a high-quality, protein-rich end product that is affordable, for example in poorer countries in Africa. A further benefit is that we do not constantly need to sail to and from the fishing grounds. This reduces wasted journeys and reduces our fuel use and overall carbon footprint.


Low carbon footprint The production of food of all types puts a strain on our planet in terms of carbon emissions, and all food producers are under pressure to minimise their CO2 emissions.

thanks to our efficient f 足ishing methods, the co2 footprint of 足 pelagic species is 足 足 low Compared to other animal protein productions, such as beef, pork poultry and farmed fish, wild-caught pelagic fish has a significantly lower carbon footprint due to the fact that it does not need to be artificially fed, nor does it require use of often scarce water supplies. Furthermore pelagic fish is caught in an efficient way.

Carbon footprint of wild-caught fish, farmed fish, poultry, pork and beef (source: RIVM) 8

Thanks to our efficient fishing and production method, the CO2 footprint of protein production from pelagic fish is considerably lower than that of any other animal protein production.

Processing on-board The vessels of PFA members range in length from 60 to 140 metres. About 80% of the capacity of a freezer-trawler is used for sorting, processing, freezing and cold-storage on-board.

Working conditions on our large ships are safe. The ships typically have 35 to 50 people on-board, working four-hour shifts. Depending on the catch and the weather, fishing trips take 3 to 4 weeks.

Catch capacity is limited by the freezing capacity per 24 hours, so other fleets’ vessels without freezing facilities can catch a lot more per day – up to 1,000 tonnes in some cases.

the size of our ­ vessels is related to the on-board processing and ­storage ­facilities

1. catch in refrigerated seawater, 0˚C 2. sorting & freezing 3. packing & Storage (-20˚C) 4. accomodation

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Importance of pelagic fish for world food supply

interview with árni mathiesen fao, assistant directorgeneral for fisheries & aquaculture


Fish is consumed in much higher quantities in developed countries than in developing ones. Fish – and animal protein in general – is simply too expensive. Pelagic fish, in terms of nutrient quantity per dollar spent, compare favourably to most other species and particularly to other marine fish. Directing cheaper pelagic species to these markets is thus an effective means of increasing fish consumption amongst poorer populations and adding a nutritionally valuable component to their everyday diet. With an average 3.4kg consumed per capita per year, pelagic fish represent around 18% of world fish consumption, while a quarter of the world’s supply of fish protein comes from pelagic species. If we look at low-income, food-deficit countries only, the share of pelagic fish in total fish consumption rises to 29% and the fish protein contribution increases to 32%. In terms of total animal proteins, the world average share of pelagic fish is 4%, rising to 8% for low-income, food-deficit countries.

in low-income, food-deficit countries the share of pelagic fish in total fish consumption rises to 29% These figures once again underscore the importance of pelagic fisheries to the world’s food supply, as well as emphasizing the key role they play as a source of fish for poor and undernourished people. In the latter respect in particular, one possible direction for further growth is suggested by the fact that a significant percentage of pelagic capture currently goes into fishmeal production. In brief, the continued development of the industry is to be encouraged, so long as we remain at the same time wholly committed to ensuring that our utilization of these resources is sustainable in the long-term. Trade in pelagic fish has been expanding steadily and major investment in processing, storage and transport technologies has seen supply chains become increasingly globalized. Another positive dimension is illustrated by observing that the total volume of pelagic fish imports for human consumption has increased by 140% overall (2009 data) and by 261% in developing countries over the period 1990-2010. This reflects the growing importance of pelagic fish for direct human consumption, particularly in developing countries, where low-valued small pelagic species like mackerel and herring provide an affordable source of essential nutrients.

fao The Fisheries and Aquaculture Department of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations believe that fisheries and aquaculture have the capacity – if supported and developed in a regulated and environmentally sensitive manner – to contribute significantly to improving the well-being of poor and disadvantaged communities in developing countries and to achievement of several of the Millennium Development Goals, especially those related to poverty reduction and food and nutrition security, environmental protection and biodiversity. The Department aims to make a significant contribution to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and the targets set by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the World Food Summit.


World production of pelagic species For the past 20 years world production of pelagic species has been relatively steady at 37 to 41 million tonnes per year. This figure represents 43% of global capture and 31% of total production including aquaculture. The four most important regions for pelagic capture are South America, Eastern Asia, South-East Asia and Northern Europe. These regions consistently account for 70% of the total pelagic catch. (Source: FAO)


Future plans The PFA policy of sustainable and responsible production is something we are committed to continue. Our aim is to further strengthen our collaboration with the marine sciences by actively engage ourselves in the collection of scientific data without which research could not be further developed. Also to collaborate and invest in research into the relation between the marine ecosystem and our fishing method and in ways to further reduce the already-low level of discards and unwanted bycatch by continuously developing more selective fishing gears, techniques and equipment. We want to retain the MSC certificates we already have and to acquire – where possible - new ones in EU waters and beyond. We aim to strike a balance between economy and ecology in our operations, so that future generations can also benefit from the sea as a source of food and income. Safety on-board will continue to be a top priority and will receive our full attention. 13

Cooperation with science PFA has a good reputation when it comes to scientific cooperation and firmly believes that sharing of data is essential for achieving good management of fish stocks. Collaboration with the scientific sector is also important for improving fishing techniques in order to achieve better selectivity and to prevent bycatch. Over the past decade, PFA has initiated and (co-)financed research projects into areas such as: - pelagic fish stocks in Mauritania - prevention of bycatch of larger fish such as sharks in Mauritania - horse mackerel stocks outside EU waters - more environmentally friendly ships’ engines - more selective fishing techniques using specific sonar equipment - DNA profiling of various populations of horse mackerel - the prevalence of North Sea herring in the northern North Sea - scientific data collection by commercial vessels In Mauritania, PFA has invested in: - purchase of equipment for the research institute IMROP - establishment of a scientific observer programme in the pelagic fisheries sector - establishment of a data information project on catch statistics 14

interview with martin scholten director of wageningen ur/imares

Martin Scholten, director of Wageningen UR/IMARES explains that the PFA has put a lot of effort into the development of management plans, and contributed greatly to research projects. “It’s crucial to understand the sea and the fishing process and it is important that science and the fishery sector cooperate well, even if we don’t always agree! Seafood production from the oceans is essential to secure the growing demand for protein rich food in the world. PFA member companies belong to the most efficient and sustainble trawler companies in the world. They fish for food not for feed! The organisation is highly aware that fisheries are dynamic and constantly changing, and they adapt strategies accordingly. For example, they funded an important research project into blue whiting, which gave us greater information about the state of the stock. This in turn led to an EU-project which undertakes annual surveys. PFA is also taking part in a new research project, in which their vessels gather data which is sent directly to IMARES. In this way they are helping us to understand better, the ecological impact of fishing methods,” said Martin Scholten.

imares Research institute IMARES works on the sustainable protection, harvesting and utilisation of the sea and brackish coastal areas. It carries out strategic and applied research relating to ecological and economic developments. IMARES is the knowledge partner for governments, companies and civil society organisations which care about marine living resources.

seafood production from the oceans is essential to secure the growing demand 15 for protein rich food in the world

What is PFA? The Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association represents the interests of 9 European pelagic freezer-trawler companies, which fish for human consumption. PFA members are responsible, family-run companies, mostly going back to the late 19th century with a fishing experience encompassing generations, and a combined fleet of 23 vessels. They are vertically integrated companies involved in the catching, processing and distribution and export of pelagic fish. Our members mainly fish in the North-East Atlantic for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting. All catches are subject to allowed quota which in line with science-based management plans. The European catch is taken within the rules and regulations of the EU fisheries policy and accounts for approximately 80% of our global catch (average last 10 years up to 2011). The vast majority is exported by the PFA members to developing markets outside the European Union.


PFA members • Cornelis Vrolijk’s Visserij Maatschappij BV – Netherlands • Doggerbank Seefischerei GmbH – Germany • France Pélagique s.a.r.l. – France • Interfish Ltd – United Kingdom • Jaczon BV – Netherlands • North Atlantic Fishing Company Ltd – United Kingdom • Parlevliet & Van der Plas BV – Netherlands • UAB Atlantic High Seas Fishing Company – Lithuania • W. van der Zwan & Zn BV – Netherlands


Safe operation More than 1500 people from 8 different nationalities work on-board vessels of PFA members and we continuously work to improve w 足 orking conditions by: - establishing a systematic risk assessment on-board each vessel and drawing up an action plan for safer working - providing healthy food on-board - encouraging and facilitating education and refresher courses - further improving working conditions. PFA members encourage the employment of local staff in the fleet. In 2012 more than 200 Mauritanians worked on-board our ships.

we focus heavily on on-board safety, for which pfa has a good reputation 18

interview with nico bogaard union secretariat at cnv

Nico Bogaard, union secretariat at CNV Vakmensen (affiliated to European Transport workers Federation) explained that his organisation has a good relationship with PFA, which is considered a good employer. “We make collective agreements on working conditions for European and non-European crew, which PFA abides by and leave them to set wage structures,” he said. “We also focus heavily on on-board safety, for which PFA members have a good reputation. Life is tough on a ship and wears you down, so we look at ways to improve safety. Simple measures such as different ways of loading, lifting and hauling, and mandatory wearing of helmets make a difference. “We also make fishermen aware of the need to adhere to safe working practices at all times, especially when setting and hauling in nets, and advise skippers and mates to be aware of crew actions. “Crew health is another concern – personally I would like to see the deep fryer banned as like everyone else, fishermen are becoming heavier. A crew member who can no longer comfortably fit through a hatch is a danger to himself!”

cnv Trade union CNV (affiliated to European Transport workers Federation) is involved in drawing up collective labour agreements for the fishing sector and through Europêche, in social dialogue at European level. PFA and their members work closely with CNV in these areas.


The pelagic AC The Pelagic Advisory Council (PELAC) is one of the AC’s advising the European Commission, European Parliament and Member States on the management of fish stocks. They are financed by the EU, the member states involved, and participating industry, conservation and community organisations. “Members don’t always agree but we take our jobs seriously and sometimes must agree to meet each other half-way,” says Christine Absil.

Selecting the catch Catching the right type of fish, at the right size and with the minimum of bycatch, needs on-going research to develop more selective nets, better sonar, and 3D imaging technologies. This will ensure current and future sustainability.


Pelagic fishing Shoals of pelagic fish are located by echo-sounding equipment, which also gives an indication of shoal size and depth. Pelagic fish swim in the mid-water column, so the nets used to catch them do not touch the seabed.

interview with christine absil the north sea foundation

Christine Absil of the North Sea Foundation explains that PFA made a good impression by taking the first major fishery through the MSC certification process, and their initiative was swiftly followed by other fishing companies. “I expect a similar, pro-active and innovative attitude from the PFA with other sustainable activities,� she says. The Pelagic AC advises on the development of long-term fisheries management plans and control regulations for pelagic stocks. Its members include The World Wide Fund for Nature and the North Sea Foundation. PFA was closely involved in the establishment of the Pelagic AC in 2006. It now hosts the secretariat function, acts as financial guarantor and is an active member of the management team of this AC. PFA is also active in the Long Distance AC which deals with fisheries beyond EU waters.

north sea foundation North Sea Foundation is an independent environmental organisation dedicated to the sustainable use of the North Sea by all stakeholders. Christine Absil created a Fish to Eat traffic-light guide in 2004, which gives consumers a clear overview of the sustainability of many fish species.

pfa made a good impression by taking the first major fishery through the msc certification process 21

Marine Stewardship Council The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent, international nonprofit organisation that has developed an independent third-party certification programme for sustainable fisheries which do not overfish and maintain healthy fish stocks, have low impact on marine life and are well managed.


interview with camiel derichs regional director europe marine stewardship council

“The PFA has been one of the first large scale European fisheries to seek MSC certification in 2006. Certification for the North Sea Herring was renewed in 2011. This re-confirmed the healthy status of the North Sea herring stock, the moderate impacts on the ecosystem in this fishery by the PFA Fleet, and the overall good management system underpinning the North Sea herring fisheries. PFA played a pioneering role in driving MSC certification in European herring fisheries, eventually this allowed many processors in for instance Germany, Poland, Sweden and Netherlands to develop consumer products which nowadays carry the MSC eco-label. Today the market demand for MSC certified seafood, as independent verification of sustainability, is ever increasing. In some countries such as Germany, Netherlands, Sweden this demand is starting to be consumer driven. MSC certification adds – apart from reputational gains - value to certified fisheries. MSC hopes that in the years to come the PFA will further expand their engagement in the MSC program, for fisheries in which it is engaged in Europe as well as in other parts of the world. For that to be possible stocks on which PFA vessels fish need to be in a good condition and have their full reproductive capacity, and stocks need to be subject to moderate exploitation levels which permit the stock to stay preserve their good shape. Further, ecosystem impacts must demonstrably be limited and there needs to be robust management and control in place to meet MSC standards.”

the marine ­stewardship council The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent, international non-profit organisation that has developed an independent third-party certification programme for sustainable fisheries.


Contributing to developing economies By employing local crew and other workers in developing countries, PFA members make a positive impact on their standard of living, and helps to boost economic growth and social development in the areas most needed. In Nigeria, for example PFA members employ local men and women to unload the catch and use the local cold storage network to deliver high-quality nutritious fish to local people. Our member companies are exceptionally well placed to assess whether countries undergoing reform are responsive to business needs on the ground. In this way we can help the EU to negotiate the right agreements with partner countries. We hope that our role as advisors will lead to more sustainable, mutually beneficial and viable agreements with a long-term perspective.


Operating outside the EU Irrespective of where we fish, we support and adhere to the EU’s high environmental, social and safety standards. Since the mid-1990s, our vessels have been fishing in non-EU waters under fisheries agreements between the EU and third countries. We fish in a transparent, legal and responsible manner, based on the available scientific advice. Local fishermen always have priority and our presence can only be complementary. However, we target different species in much deeper waters, more than 12 nautical miles offshore. We also contribute to local scientific fisheries research, to redress the lack of data needed to assess stock levels. Our efforts create value throughout the supply chain and have a positive socioeconomic impact. Beyond EU waters, we need stronger enforcement by third country authorities – to verify that all vessels operate within the rules, and that third countries do not duplicate surplus in different agreements. Unfortunately, not all international 26

operators active in third country and international waters meet the EU’s safety and environmental standards and this threatens our efforts to foster sustainable practices in these regions. It would not be in a developing country’s interest if responsible EU operators were replaced by international operators who have less or even little regard for safeguarding the environment.

we need stronger enforcement by third country authorities Over time, we can make a genuine contribution to sharing environmental principles and sustainable practices with locals and help foster equivalent standards.

PFA and Mauritania Fishing activities in Mauritania

have been active in From 1996 until 2012 PFA members EU fisheries partnership the waters of Mauritania under the twenty per cent of the agreement with Mauritania. Up to these waters. PFA catch has been coming from EU and Mauritania (active The new agreement between the nical conditions that make since December 2012) has set tech er the new agreement very commercially viable fisheries und this paper discussions difficult. At the moment of finalizing possible amendments of between the EU and Mauritania on e. Since april 2012 member the agreement are still taking plac in Mauritanian waters. of the PFA have not been active

trawlers in West African As the Soviet Union-fleet of stern of under-utilisation of waters had left, there was a situation gical point of view, no the pelagic fish stocks. From a biolo on pelagic species. objections existed to start fishing onsible fishery in Since then the PFA conducts a resp des more employment West African countries, which inclu of biological research opportunities and the continuation ers usually employed in Mauritania. The PFA trawler own members working approximately 200 Mauritanian crew ee officers, train , on-board of the vessels. In addition gists are involved in inspectors, agents and fisheries biolo pelagic fishing activities.

’s asked by the Mauritanian The PFA members were mid 1990 gic species in their waters. government to start fishing on pela

anian approximately 200 maurit of ­embers worked on board crewm the vessels

interview with ad corten researcher

Researcher Ad Corten since 1998 intensively involved in the pelagic fisheries in Mauritania. “PFA trawler owners had just started fishing off the coast of West Africa. At their request, I did surveys on fish stocks. From that initial investigation many other research activities developed in the course of time. Earlier, Russians and French founded a research institute and trained people. But that institution had stopped working since the early 90’s. Now there is a new institute with several buildings and a total of over 200 people - drivers and cleaners included. We brought in knowledge, computers, internet, trained people, started detection programs. Now Mauritania has good statistics, a good database and can as any country in the region independently perform echo-surveys. Due to investments of PFA members and the Dutch government! After all these years, they call me Mister Pelagic here ...

‘ in mauritania i am mister pelagic’

Since 2012 also Europe contributes financially. According to European regulations, European countries are required to have observers on board fishing vessels, wherever they sail. Because we have well-trained observers, there are now Mauritanian observers on Dutch trawlers. There are more examples of international cooperation. A good example of private initiative, the aid projects of the foundation Katwijk-Mauritania. Trawler owners contributed financially to the children’s hospital, and school. Positive for the impoverished Mauritania and for the image of the trawler owners themselves!’ 29

Louis Braillelaan 80 2719 EK Zoetermeer The Netherlands