The Dutch fishery industry catches approximately 50.000 tons of bycatch a year. Discards (too young and too small fishes) used to be trown back overboard, but the chances of survival are insecure. If they survive this procedure, they will probably be eaten by hungry seagulls.
Encouraging Sustainability by Law
To encourage a more sustainable and selective fishery industry, fishermen are now forced by European law to bring all catch to land. This is easier said than done for Dutch fishery. Important species such as sole and plaice all swim together at the bottom at the sea and fishing with big trawlers takes everything including baby fishes, crabs, starfishes or rayfish. By increasing mesh sizes in the nets, some little ones can leave the net, but that doesn’t apply on every kind of fish.
The Future of the Fishing Industry
What happens with this 50.000 tons bycatch when they come ashore? It is not allowed to sell it for direct human consumption, that would encourage the capture of juvenile fish. The bycatch is currently being processed to fishmeal, which provides food for farmed fish and livestock. Although the new law aims for a more sustainable fishing process with less discards, if the technique doesn't improve, the bycatch will remain.
The consequences will not only be many unnecessarily wasted fish, but also the North Sea will be over-exploited, causing the fishing industry casting their own future.
Arjanne Bode graduated at Art, Communication and Design (Fontys, Tilburg) with ‘Als een vis op het droge’ in 2016. Born and raised in Zeeland, a province in the south of the Netherlands with a vivid fishing culture, she developed an passion for the sea and every creature living in it.
Als een vis op het droge
The installation is accessible during opening hours of Mediamatic ETEN.
Dijkspark 6, 1019 BS, Amsterdam