Small-scale fisheries in Germany: A disappearing profession?
This chapter provides an overview of the small-scale fishing sector in Germany. The small-scale fleet is defined here as including vessels up to 24 m in length that are usually family owned and operate in the Baltic and North Seas. The fleet comprises of beam trawlers, cutter trawlers and vessels employing passive gears. Target species are brown shrimp and flatfish in the North Sea and herring, cod, flatfish and certain freshwater species in the Baltic Sea. Beam trawlers only fish in the coastal North Sea, whereas the small gill netters are based exclusively along the Baltic coast. The North and Baltic Seas have very different physical conditions. The North Sea has substantial tidal influence and normal marine salinity, while the Baltic Sea has minimal tidal influence and brackish water. After the introduction of the Common Fisheries Policy in 1983 (in East Germany 1990), individual quotas were issued. Most small-scale fishers are organised by producer organisations. They can be subject to additional conservation regulations which only apply to coastal zones. The increasing demand for fish stemming from fisheries which are certified as sustainable might impose further restrictions on small-scale fisheries. Most fishers employing passive gear have been in a steadily precarious economic situation due to very small quotas. Thus, their number is continuously decreasing. The shrimp and cutter fleets are in a healthier economic state, owing to their fishing of unregulated species (shrimp) or having the possibility to fish in both the Baltic and North Seas (cutter trawler fleet). Despite these advantages, investment in new vessels is extremely scarce in German small-scale fisheries.