PFA reacts to recent messages about pelagic freezer trawlers


In light of recent messages about the fishing activities of pelagic freezer trawlers, we want to reiterate the facts about pelagic fisheries and freezer trawlers.

Publications have appeared on various online media channels about the presence of PFA members’ freezer trawlers in EU waters, including in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Unfortunately, many of these messages present only one-sided points of view and omit important context.

It needs to be stressed that all our members’ vessels

We understand that some of the messages about supertrawlers can be confusing and raise questions about why our vessels are sometimes active in MPAs – geographically defined zones to protect, manage and enhance marine ecosystems. We would therefore like to assure you that all the fishing activities of PFA members’ freezer trawlers are fully legal and authorized by the EU and that pelagic trawling is allowed in these specific areas.

The quantities of pelagic fish caught by our members are directly related to the size of the biomass of the pelagic species. It is an economic necessity to apply economies of scale due to the very large volumes of fish involved and tough international competition in the seafood market.

However, it is also important to highlight that all the fishing operations of PFA members are strictly within the allocated quotas set by the European Union to support responsible management of pelagic stocks. These quotas are based on the scientific recommendations from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) – the leading independent scientific body for fisheries.

Therefore, the size of our vessels does not mean that they have disproportionate catching power – as is sometimes claimed.
In fact, freezer trawlers of PFA members are larger than most other pelagic trawlers, because they are almost unique in their processing and freezing space onboard, which makes up around 70% of the vessel’s size. This onboard freezing, packaging and storage option helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the fishing operation.

We would like to emphasize that responsible fishing is essential for PFA members’ business strategy. Our members are committed to sustainably fishing for food in order to provide around 6 million healthy, high-quality and affordable meals a day with the lowest carbon footprint of all animal protein production. PFA members want to continue contributing to global food security. Not only now, but also in the future; so that future generations can continue to fish for human consumption.

For more information on our members’ fishing activities, please visit



Date Posted: 15th March 2023

We use third-party cookies to personalise content and analyse site traffic.

Learn more