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Fishing with a vision on sustainability

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The fishing industry in Urk has been shaped by tradition, but the traditional fishing village is still open to innovation, as evidenced by Ekofish. This fisheries company is developing the ship of the future, a ship that takes the environment, animals, fishermen and consumers into consideration. "Thanks to the R&D tax credit (WBSO) scheme, we can let the construction of the first ship begin," according to general director Jacob Kramer.

Ekofish is a fisheries company with a vision, focused on operations that are smarter, more environmentally friendly and more energy-efficient. Hence, Ekofish is willing to explore options beyond the traditional. "Innovation is in our blood," Kramer says. "A number of years ago, our plan was to convert our fleet into multifunctional ships, which would serve as service ships for the offshore industry outside of the fishing season."

Reduced emissions

Due to economic developments in the oil and gas industry, those plans were no longer feasible. However, innovative Ekofish did not leave it at that. "We are currently focused on developing ships with the lowest possible carbon and nitric oxide emissions. This can be accomplished with smaller diesel generators, electric propulsion and storage of excess power in batteries."

Mechanical fish processing

Kramer: "Our ships are equipped with twin rig nets that we developed ourselves. The nets result in less bycatch and less disturbance of the seabed. The new ship features even more novelties, such as a mechanical processing line. "This allows the fishermen to work twice as fast, which means they also get more rest. We stun the fish, which is more animal friendly, and the cooling and freezing brings about an improvement in the quality and shelf life of our product."

WBSO stimulates structure and focus

"We have conducted a lot of research into the ship of the future ourselves," says Kramer. "We did research into energy-efficient electrical propulsion, for example. The concept is ready for construction. The speed of the R&D is a result of the WBSO. It encourages focus and structure. You work according to a plan, in a coordinated fashion, and it’s your responsibility to get everything completed in time. For our new ship, which will be an exceptionally sustainable ship, we recently received a subsidy from the Energy Innovation Demonstration (DEI) grant scheme. Our ship will soon serve as an example for companies in the Netherlands and abroad.

Hourly fee and discipline

"The hours that you spend on innovation are partly reimbursed by the WBSO, which is of course very helpful for anyone wishing to focus on innovation over a longer period." However, a certain degree of discipline is required. "The Netherlands Enterprise Agency, which implements the scheme, requires you to account for your working hours and to keep records, but that commitment pays off in the end. Moreover, well-ordered records will help you work innovatively in a more structured manner."

Are you also engaged in innovation for the future?

Are you, like Ekofish, interested in benefiting from the advantages offered by the WBSO scheme? You can easily apply for WBSO support for your R&D project.

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