Dutch Fishing Industry Charts Course for Sustainability and Innovation

16 November 2023
Dutch Fishing Industry Charts Course for Sustainability and Innovation

Despite recent challenges that have cast shadows over the Dutch fishing fleet, with 54 ships undergoing reorganization in the past year, a resilient segment of the industry remains steadfast in its commitment to sustainability and innovation. The Fisheries Innovation Network (VIN) has emerged as a beacon of hope for the sector, fostering ambitious plans with strong support from the ministry and an enthusiastic minister.


This determination was evident at the Europort 2023 meeting of the Fisheries Innovation Network, where the network celebrated its first anniversary. Reflecting on a year of significant developments, the gathering highlighted innovative initiatives that have already taken shape.


One notable focus is on researching new, fuel-efficient fishing methods that also minimize impact on the seabed. Substantial investments in exploring multi-purpose fishing vessels are underway, allowing fishermen to diversify their use beyond traditional fishing activities, such as engaging in maritime research. This not only enhances sustainability but also significantly improves the revenue model for fishermen.



The conversation at Europort also delved into the digitalization of the fleet, a trend already gaining traction in Belgium. Plans were unveiled to equip the first groups of cutters in the Netherlands with the necessary digital tools, a move aimed at enhancing operational efficiency.


The Fisheries Innovation Network's first anniversary drew attention from prominent figures, including Fisheries Minister Piet Adema, who expressed admiration for the sector's commitment to innovation. Minister Adema emphasized the importance of ongoing innovation, particularly following the discontinuation of pulse fishing. He stressed the need for developing new, sustainable catching and propulsion techniques to ensure the resilience of the Dutch fishing sector. "It is important that the Netherlands maintains a robust fishing sector. I have seen wonderful examples of such innovations at Europort. For example, a fishing vessel that can also be used for other applications. This provides new revenue models that allow fishermen to continue working in the place they hold so dear: the sea.


Amidst the challenges, the anniversary celebration revealed a palpable enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit among participants. Dutch fishermen, more than ever, seem to embrace the idea that sunshine inevitably follows the rain.


The Fisheries Innovation Network (VIN) is an independent network for everyone who can contribute to innovations in the fisheries sector. The Network started in the summer of 2022. It has now more than 100 members; from fishermen to shipyards, from suppliers to factories and from technical universities to cooperatives. Jointly, the VIN looks for ideas and solutions for sustainable and profitable fishing. Members work on innovations in fishing vessel design and fishing methods, co-use of the North Sea and new business models.