Change as a permanent condition: A history of transition processes in Dutch North Sea fisheries

L. Van Hoof*, N.A. Steins, S. Smith, M. Kraan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Centre of debate on food production in the Netherlands today focusses on the issue of realising a cyclical mode of production and operating in a climate neutral way. This transition is envisaged not only for agriculture, but also for fisheries. Dutch fisheries face a multitude of challenges in addition to, as well as related to this circularity transition. These include loss of operating space for fishing activities in the North Sea (windfarms, nature conservation areas, Brexit) and the need for further development of sustainable fishing methods and vessels (innovations to reduce ecological and environmental impacts). Whilst the Dutch fisheries face these challenges now and in the future, it has already gone through significant changes over the past 70 years. Since the dawn of fisheries policy in Europe in the 1970s, change and development have been part of the fishing industry, indicating that transitions and change are a permanent aspect of fisheries. From past transitions lessons can be learnt to take on current and future challenges. Past transitions in Dutch fisheries were analysed from the perspective of transition and governance. Based on literature and reports produced in recent decades and pooled knowledge gained from the fishing industry, government and environmental organisations, this paper shows that the roles of the different actors involved changed during past transitions, with a shift in playing field occurring from a regional to a European scale and that joint problem definition, collective sensemaking and a long term vision are essential in navigating transition waters.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104245
JournalMarine Policy
Early online date6 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Circularity
  • Collective sensemaking
  • Fisheries
  • Governance
  • Multi-level governance
  • Sustainable
  • Transition


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