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Infographic: Pelagic fishing is sustainable fishing

23 July 2020

Our latest infographic provides the key facts that support and outline PFA members’ commitment to applying the latest research and cutting edge technology to ensure their fishing operations are sustainable. PFA Infographic.pdf


PFA members work with world-leading scientists and fisheries management experts to ensure that our catch is selective, avoids bycatch and does no damage to the areas in which we fish.


You can find out more about the PFA’s plan of action, research and contribution to sustainable fishing here (link naar


Open letter to Greenpeace UK to join forces for sustainable fisheries

26 June 2020

26-6-2020 Open letter to Greenpeace UK to join forces for sustainable fisheries


The Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) has published an open letter calling for Greenpeace UK to enter into a dialogue in the interest of heathy oceans and sustainable fishing operations in UK waters. This call follows the publication of an inaccurate and misleading report by the campaign group on fishing in Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) earlier this month.


Greenpeace’s report contains a number of false statements and inaccuracies about the operations of pelagic freezer trawlers across Europe, all of whom are fishing legally, sustainably and within quota based on scientific advice.


The report also contradicts a Memorandum of Understanding the PFA and its member companies signed with Greenpeace in the Netherlands in August 2016, which is still in function. The MoU recognizes 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 bycatch; and in contributing to effective fisheries management in all regions where PFA members have a pelagic fishing operation.


Press release:

PFA press release on open letter to Greenpeace.pdf


Open letter to Greenpeace:

Open letter to Greenpeace UK.pdf


Factsheet fiction versus fact statement:
Fiction versus facts UK MPA.pdf






Artikel vijf jaar self-sampling in de pelagische visserij uit Visserijnieuws 5 juni 2020

9 June 2020

Artikel vijf jaar self-sampling in de pelagische visserij: PFA Selfsampling.pdf


Press release: PFA introduces pingers as precautionary measure to avoid bycatch of dolphins

24 March 2020

Press release PFA: Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association introduces pingers as precautionary measure to avoid bycatch of dolphins
20200312 - press release pingers PFA


EU fishing industry response to COVID-19 crisis

17 March 2020


EU fishing industry response to COVID-19 crisis

20200317 - Industry response Impact of COVID-19 on the fishery sector.pdf


Pelagic fisheries in the Channel by the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA)

12 December 2019

20191125 - PFA Factsheet Pelagic fisheries in the Channel - EN -.pdf


Pêches pélagiques dans la Manche, par l’Association des chalutiers-congélateurs de pêche pélagique

12 December 2019

20191125 - PFA Factsheet Peches pelagiques dans la Manche - FR -.pdf




The Dutch Fishing News (VisserijNieuws) published a long-read of the PFA research activities

18 June 2019

The Dutch Fishing News (VisserijNieuws) published a long-read of the PFA research activities of the past 5 years in the special edition on pelagic fishing, 14 June 2019. The article clearly shows the breadth and commitment of activities that the PFA has been engaged in and how that is changing the role of the fishing industry with science. [pdf]


Video release on the industry survey on 6a herring

3 November 2017

During August and September 2017, the second iteration of the industry survey on 6a herring has been carried out by six industry vessels (of which three from PFA members). The survey aims to provide new and better information on the size and composition of herring stocks in the region. The filmmaker Andrew Scott summarized the survey approach in this video.



5 April 2018

Gezamenlijk standpunt inzake vissenwelzijn:


/media/afbeeldingen/20180306 - Gezamenlijke-reactie-Visserijsector-dierenwelzijn-visfederatie-nvb-visned-rvz-juist.pdf


PFA in ICES training course on acoustic surveys

19 June 2017

Martin Pastoors participated in the first ICES training course on acoustic surveys (12-16 June 2017) that was lead by Paul Fernandes (University of Aberdeen) and John Horne (University of Washington) and attracted 25 participants from Europe, USA, Canada and Kenia. The course provided a thorough overview from the basic physics of underwater sound all the way up to the calculation of an age composition in an acoustic trawl survey. It was very instructive to be guided through this whole process. Some ideas that could be picked up in the research within PFA: annual calibration of acoustic equipment on trawlers, using software for integrating multiple frequencies in one screen and training in acoustics for vessel crew.


Article in VisserijNieuws on the hake grid experiments

13 June 2017

In May 2017 we carried out research to try and avoid the bycatch of hake in the pelagic fishery for blue whiting. The trials were carried out on board of the SCH72 Frank Bonefaas. A description of the escape grid and the trials has been published in VisserijNieuws on 9 June 2017 (Article VisserijNieuws)




PFA and RVZ sign Green Deal for Clean Sea

13 March 2017

10-03-2017 PFA and RVZ sign Green Deal for Clean Sea

On behalf of the large Dutch pelagic fishing companies the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) and the Dutch Pelagic Ship-owners Association (RVZ) have signed a Green Deal for a Clean Sea. By signing PFA and RVZ commit to achieve in 2020 the shared objective to recycle or to usefully recover 95% of the waste from business operations and gear. No distinction is made whether the ships sail under the Dutch flag or under German or French flag, nor whether these ships operate in the North Sea or beyond.

In the framework of the Green Deal for fisheries - 'Together for a clean sea ' already existing initiatives will be further intensified and extended. In recent years the PFA/RVZ already initiated the following activities aimed at minimizing the impact on the environment at sea by:

  • Separating on board of the vessels the produced waste in 7 categories (being paper/cardboard, glass/tin, plastic, household waste, old nets, oil residue and other chemicals, as well as organic waste.
  • Draining, recycling or recovering the separated waste ashore. And by already asking our net suppliers to recycle the used fishing nets.
  • Minimizing the use of cleaning products on board of  the ships as much as possible, and by exclusively using biodegradable cleaning products.

Also the new on-shore power facilities in the Dutch pelagic fishing ports of IJmuiden and Scheveningen contribute to a cleaner environment.




PFA en RVZ ondertekenen Green Deal voor een Schone Zee

13 March 2017


10-03-2017 PFA en RVZ ondertekenen Green Deal voor een Schone Zee

De Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) en de Redersvereniging voor de Zeevisserij (RVZ) hebben mede namens de grote Nederlandse pelagische rederijen die lid zijn van de PFA/RVZ de Green Deal voor een Schone Zee ondertekend. Met deze ondertekening verbinden de PFA en de RVZ zich om in 2020 de gezamenlijke doelstelling te behalen om 95% van het afval uit de bedrijfsvoering en vistuig te recyclen dan wel nuttig toe te passen. Daarbij wordt geen onderscheid gemaakt of de schepen onder Nederlandse vlag varen of onder Duitse of Franse vlag en of deze schepen actief zijn in de Noordzee of daarbuiten.

In het kader van de Green Deal voor de Visserij - ‘Samen voor een schone zee’ zullen bestaande initiatieven verder geïntensiveerd en uitgebreid worden. De afgelopen jaren hebben de PFA/RVZ zich al ingezet voor een minimale belasting van het milieu op zee door:

  • Aan boord van de schepen het geproduceerde afval te scheiden in 7 categorieën  (zijnde papier/karton, glas/blik, plastic, huishoudelijk afval, oude netten, olieresten en andere chemische stoffen en organisch afval.
  • Het afval vervolgens aan wal gescheiden af te voeren en te laten recyclen, dan wel te laten verwerken. Door gebruikte visnetten nu al te laten hergebruiken door de leverancier zelf.
  • En het gebruik van schoonmaakmiddelen aan boord van de schepen zo veel mogelijk te minimaliseren en exclusief biologisch afbreekbare schoonmaakmiddelen te gebruiken.

Ook de nieuwe inrichting van walstroom faciliteiten in onze visserijhavens zoals in IJmuiden en – sedert deze week ook – in Scheveningen leveren een bijdrage aan een schoner milieu.


PFA and Greenpeace sign MoU on sustainable pelagic fisheries

31 August 2016


The Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) and its member companies Parlevliet & Van der Plas, Cornelis Vrolijk and W. van der Zwan, signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Greenpeace. Shared objective is to achieve a sustainable (pelagic) fisheries, such as the herring and mackerel fishery, and a healthy balance between fisheries and the marine environment. PFA will not explore until now unfished areas in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.


The agreements in the MoU recognize the leading role of the PFA:

  • in the collection of scientific data and scientific research regarding (pelagic) resources, avoiding bycatch, improving selectivity and the impact on the marine ecosystem, and
  • in constructively contributing to effective fisheries management in all regions where members of the PFA have a pelagic fishing operation.
  • Both parties also agreed that the PFA member companies refrain from entering into fishing in the until now unfished areas in the Arctic and Antarctic and to work together in improving regional fisheries management in West Africa.

PFA and Greenpeace will entertain an ongoing dialogue on all issues listed in the MoU.

The duration of the agreement is set at ten years.



/media/afbeeldingen/20160831 - MoU Greenpeace-PFA - agreed text (FINAL).pdf


Press Statement:

/media/afbeeldingen/20160831 - Joint press statement Greenpeace PFA and VNO - ENG .pdf



/media/afbeeldingen/20160831 - Gezamenlijk persbericht van Greenpeace PFA en VNO - NL.pdf


Picture taken by Nina Slagmolen:

/media/afbeeldingen/20160831 - signing MoU GP-PFA.pdf




International workshop on the use of acoustic data from Fishing vessels

16 June 2015

On 12 June 2015, PFA organized on behalf of the EU pelagic fishing industry, a workshop on the use of fishing vessel acoustics for research. The workshop was held at Schiphol airport and was well attended by skippers, fleet managers and researchers. With the help of presentations from different parts of the world (New Zealand, Canada, Peru, Europe) we managed to develop a broad picture of the potential use and method for assembling fishing vessel acoustic data for research purposes. The acoustic data from fishing vessels could broadly be used for two different purposes: quantitative data directed at stock estimation and stock assessment, and qualitative data on overall trends and distributions within marine ecosystems. The overall driver could be to collect data where traditional research activities cannot reach (e.g. remote areas, rough weather, many vessels at the same time). More information in the report of the workshop.


Statement in response to the release of the Atlantic documentary in Ireland

29 April 2016

Catching with care

Statement in response to the release of the Atlantic documentary in Ireland.

The recently released documentary Atlantic includes references to PFA member vessels, raising questions over the manner in which they operate. The PFA prides itself on the fact all its member vessels fish legally in an ethical, sustainable and responsible manner, whether operating in Irish waters or elsewhere.

PFA member vessels operate within the quota system set according to the Common Fisheries Policy and employ a range of measures to ensure their operation is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Since January 2015, the pelagic fishing industry has been under an EU-wide discard ban meaning that everything that is caught is accounted for and landed. The pelagic industry was the first to see the discard ban introduced due to the fact its operations were largely discard free.

Furthermore, pelagic vessels have a widely acknowledged low level of bycatch. They are targeting large, mid water shoals of fish and are highly effective at pinpointing these. Due to this, bycatch is very low – between 0 and 5 per cent depending on the vessel and the stock they are targeting. To say our members are discarding high numbers of fish is simply not true.

The PFA believes pelagic freezer vessels are being unfairly targeted in some Irish media and vilified with often spurious claims. The term ‘supertrawlers’ is in essence a misnomer. While these vessels are large, around 80% of this size is taken up by the on-board sorting, freezing, processing and storage departments. Pelagic freezer vessels only catch what they are able to freeze – which is between 80 and 400 tonnes in 24 hours, depending the size of the freezer-trawler.
Smaller pelagic trawlers landing fresh fish often catch much more than this in one day, sometimes up to 1,000 tonnes.

PFA members are committed to operating in a legal, professional and sustainable manner and this underlines all our activity in Irish waters and beyond.


PFA participates in International Mackerel and Horse Mackerel Egg survey

10 May 2016

On May 10, 2016 the Atlantic Lady (H180) freezer trawler will sail out of the port of Scheveningen to participate in the tri-annual international mackerel and horse mackerel egg survey. On board will be the crew of the vessel with Dirk Haasnoot as skipper and 5 researchers of IMARES with Cindy van Damme as cruise leader. The PFA is proud to be able to support the international egg survey by providing a vessel and crew and funding for the research. The tri-annual egg survey for mackerel and horse mackerel is an important part of the assessments of those stocks.

The contribution of the pelagic industry to the egg survey is the result of a close collaboration between industry and science that was initiated last year with an ad hoc pre-egg survey survey. This year the fishing industries of Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands are each contributing a two week period of survey time and a survey platform. Results of the survey will be collated into the international egg survey report.

More information




PFA represents the interests of nine European freezer-trawler companies involved in pelagic fishing activities for human consumption.

Learn more about the PFA policy of sustainable and responsible production.

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