“Coastal fisheries in Denmark are virtually being phased out”

Fishing boats in Lønstrup, Denmark. Photo: Tomasz Sienick, Wikimedia Commons.

Mogens Schou’s opinion article on Transferable Fishing Concessions [CFP Reform Watch 3/11/2011] has stirred a debate in the comment field. Danish commentators criticise Mogens Schou for leaving out the negative aspects of the Danish TFC system.

Kurt Bertelsen Christensen, former fishermen and former chairman for the Danish Society For a Living Sea, cites a report by the Coastal Fishing Committee which concludes that “the coastal fisheries in Denmark are virtually being phased out under the current scheme”. He continues, “a Danish coastal community with 20 fishing vessels had none or very little debt before the introduction of transferable rights. Now it has a debt of 13.5 €.” The parties that entered into the new Danish government this year voted against the TFC agreement in 2005, according to Kurt Bertelsen Christensen.

Hanne Winter, Marine Biologist at Greenpeace Denmark, points out that in Denmark the right to catch fish, the quotas share, was based only on a vessel’s historic catches. “No other criteria was used, such as e.g. a vessel’s overall impact on the environment, value created for society, history of compliance, target species, bycatch issues or impact on threatened species etc. The result is a remaining fleet that may be profitable for the very few, but with poor value for the society,” she writes

Mogens Schou, author of the original opinion piece, replies: “TFC was not the main instrument to ensure sustainability. The next step is. The Commission proposal that all fish must count on the quota and all catches must be fully documented is the instrument for that. This change will also entail that eco-friendly passive gear fisheries with little discard (and little bottom effect) will benefit over heavy gear.”

To follow the full discussion on many more details on the pros and cons of the Danish TFC system, please refer to the comment field of the article.

On the subject of owner concentration, Danish newspaper Politiken recently published an investigative report showing that out of nearly 1,400 professional fishermen who received state subsidies, just 20 of them received 57 percent of the total aid money distributed between 2004 and 2010. The story is quoted in English in The Copenhagen Post.

Axel Naver

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