The Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association (PFA) represents the interests of 8 pelagic freezer-trawler companies from six countries across Europe (France, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK), which fish almost entirely for human consumption.

PFA members are well-established family-run companies, with a focus on fishing for pelagic species such as herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting.

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Why are pelagic freezer trawlers so big?

PFA members’ pelagic freezer trawlers are often bigger than other fishing vessels. Not the size of the vessel, but scientifically derived quotas determine how much freezer trawlers can fish. In fact, the size of our freezer trawlers makes them enormously efficient and therefore sustainable for fishing. Big is therefore not always bad. Find out for yourself what parts a pelagic freezer trawler really consists of!

Fishing Vessel Infographic


Pelagic vessels fish with mid-water trawls in the water column.

Sorting & Process

After being pumped on-board, the fish are refrigerated. The fish then go to the section in the vessel where everything is sorted by species and size.


After this, the fish is frozen as quickly as possible. This ensures that the quality remains optimal. The fish is frozen in blocks at a temperature of -20 degrees Celsius.

Packing & Storage

The blocks of frozen fish are then packed in boxes and stored in the cold-storage on-board. This takes up most of the vessel's length. About 70% of the capacity of a freezer trawler is used for sorting, processing, freezing and cold-storage on-board.

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Our members supply 2.2 billion affordable and healthy meals of fish per year.

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We’ve collected over 3 million samples for our self-sampling program.

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We have 15 different nationalities working on our vessels.

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Our members support 900+ fishers working on our vessels at sea.

The Seafloor

Members’ Stories

PFA members are responsible, family-run companies, mostly going back to the late 19th century, who benefit from several generations of fishing experience, and operate a combined fleet of 18 vessels.

Our aim is to maintain a sustainable fishing industry, both now and in the future, so that the future generations of these companies can also contribute to the goal of food security. Therefore, we only fish the interest and we leave the capital in the sea.

- PFA members

Working onboard a pelagic freezer trawler is not working. It’s a way of life.

– Skipper of a Pelagic Freezer Trawler

Our story is that we fish for human consumption. PFA members contribute to global food security with the daily supply of an average of 6 million meals of fish around the world. Pelagic fish is the most affordable source of animal protein for many people in Africa. We are proud of that.

Tim Heddema
- PFA President

One of the pillars of sustainability is people. The safety and health of our fishers is an essential part of this.

Cor Blonk
- Secretary of Labour Affairs PFA

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