Three super trawlers Afrika, Alida and Willem Van Der Zwan are presently in waters west of Ireland. This concentration of super trawlers has a catch and process capacity of up to 800 tonnes a day. Afrika is currently West of Co Galway (the others appear to have their identification switched off or are out of range for AIS).
I think the three ships are part of the ‘W van der Zwan nl’ group which along with ‘Parlevliet and Van der Plas’ (also a Dutch conglomerate) are two of the largest EU fleet operators.
The ‘Afrika’ is working adjacent to another – unidentified – vessel at the moment which would seem to be another of these giant processing vessels.
These trawlers normally fish these waters and can achieve catch equivalent to ten times that of smaller domestic vessels. The Irish Naval Service monitors their fishing but I can see no INS vessel presence in the area at present.
Both the Van der Zwann and Van der Plas pride themselves on fishing ‘sustainably’. The W van der Zwan nl website says:
‘Our goal is simple: we should fish in such a way that fish stocks and their natural habitats remain healthy and productive. This is the only way in which we can continue to meet the demand of present and future generations.
‘We want to preserve the capital and to catch the interest.’There’s not a hint of irony!
Image: MFV Afrika
Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (8th January 2021)