Grey Mullet by Beach Gill Net

Wadden Sea / Netherlands


Grey Mullet


Apr 30 - Oct 31

Beach Gillnet

Fishermen use curtains of netting suspended by a system of floats and weights along the seashore to catch grey mullet. The fine netting is almost invisible, so the fish unwittingly swim into the mesh. As they try to back out, their gill covers get snagged and the fish becomes entangled in the net. Nets average 500 to 1,500 metres (1,600 to 5,000 feet) in length.

Harvesting Method

Beach Gillnet

Fishermen set their rectangular static nets from small vessels in shallow waters along the seashore. The net is kept vertical by a float line and a weighted ground line and is anchored to the seafloor at both ends. When the tide flows out, the nets lay flat on the seashore allowing fishermen to collect their catch. Fishermen also wade in shallow waters to collect fish from their net or haul it from a small boat. Nets are often tied together in a row, stretching up to 2.5 kilometres.

Beach Gillnet

In the Netherlands, beach gill netting is a small-scale and traditional fishery consisting of approximately 70 small vessels spread along the entire coast. Gill nets are used to catch cod, sole, hake, turbot, anglerfish, grey mullet, seabass and plaice. By using different mesh sizes and setting out nets in exactly the right place and at the right depth, fishermen can target specific species. Fish that are too small simply swim through the mesh. As a result, fishermen catch relatively little bycatch or undersized fish.

Conservation Measures

Beach gill nets, also called static nets, have a low impact on marine habitats and relatively low bycatch of unwanted or undersized species. A number of controls address conservation in the Dutch beach gill net fishery. These include:

  • strict annual catch limits (80 tonnes);
  • restrictions on mesh sizes for nets (110 mm) to protect small fish;
  • restrictions on the length of the net (2.5 km)
  • limitation on number of licensed fishing vessels;
  • restrictions on engine power (300 hp) and length (24 metres) of vessels;
  • seasonal and fishing area restrictions for conservation purposes;
  • minimum mesh sizes on nets;
  • mandatory hauling of nets within six hours;

In this lobster fishing area, fish harvesters actively participate in scientific data collection and research such as:

  • a comprehensive data collection system on catches
  • scientific sampling of lobsters at sea
  • maintaining catch logbooks and scientific field notebooks

Wadden Sea / Netherlands


Apr 30 - Oct 31


Visit the Dutch Fish Product Board to learn more about the management of this fishery. 


Visit the Dutch Fish Product Board to learn more about the sustainability of this fishery. 

Quality and Handling

Fishermen store their fresh catch on ice. If a catch were large, they transport ice in big plastic boxes by boat to their beach gill nets where the fish is cooled immediately. The fish is then transported to a mothership, which is typically a cargo vessel.

Harvesting Area

The Wadden Sea is an intertidal zone in the southeastern region of the North Sea, lying between continental Europe and the Frisian Islands and forming a shallow body of water with tidal flats, salt marches and wetlands. It is rich in biological diversity and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. Of its 9,700 km² in area, more than a quarter lies within The Netherlands. The Dutch Wadden Sea contains 11 islands, which are eroding along the western shore and expanding on the eastern shore. The region is home to a diversity of life, including many fish species, 8,000 seals and breeding grounds for migratory birds.


Food Info Grey Mullet


  • Colour: bright white with some dark meat
  • Texture: very lean with a wonderfully firm texture that holds well when grilled or steamed whole
  • Flavour: a moderate fresh flavour from clean waters, but a muddy taste when caught in brackish or sweet water.
  • Perfect serve: Be aware that mullet cooks very quickly, so be careful not to overcook as it will become dry. Grey mullet does well when steamed with fresh spinach to offset its slight nuttiness. Even better though, this fish is excellent eaten raw or slightly marinated in good quality vinegar.