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.
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!
The vessels typically have 35 to 60 people on-board, working in shifts and enjoying their free time in the sleeping and recreation areas.
Pelagic freezer-trawlers operate outside the coastal areas and target pelagic species such as blue whiting, (horse) mackerel and herring that swim in large shoals of fish. Shoals can sometimes be in their millions.
Pelagic fish shoals are found by our trawlers using sonar and echo equipment. Pelagic fishing is 99% selective.
The net is used to catch the fish. The mesh size of the net depends on the type of fishery. Two large trawl doors ensure horizontal opening of the net, and weights and floats attached to the bottom-line and upper headline ensure the vertical opening.
The bridge is an important part of the vessel. This is where the skipper and officers are responsible for running the vessel and catching fish.
The foremast of a fishing vessel is essential because, among other things, the fish lights are located in the foremast. At all times, you can recognize whether the vessel is fishing or not.
The quality of the fish is checked regularly onboard. In the onboard factory there is a dedicated workspace/office where the quality manager runs these checks and writes the quality reports. Besides the quality checks, the quality manager is also responsible for the performance in the factory.
The contribution to science has become increasingly important for the pelagic fishing sector over the last years. At most of our vessels there is now space reserved so scientists can join and perform science at sea.
Pelagic vessels fish with mid-water trawls in the water column.
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.
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.
Our members supply 2.2 billion affordable and healthy meals of fish per year.
We’ve collected over 3 million samples for our self-sampling program.
We have 15 different nationalities working on our vessels.
Our members support 900+ fishers working on our vessels at sea.
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.
- PFA President
One of the pillars of sustainability is people. The safety and health of our fishers is an essential part of this.
- Secretary of Labour Affairs PFA
Find our news releases, press releases and fact sheets on the pelagic fisheries sector here.