Wadden Sea / Netherlands
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.