Grey mullet have an upper lip that is thick, prominent and hard, giving it the nickname “thick-lipped” mullet. The fish belongs to a large family of marine fishes, made up of some 80 species, known collectively as Muglidae. Since the fish lives in shallow waters close to the shore, Europeans have been catching and eating mullet since antiquity.
Grey mullet are dark green to bluish grey on their backs with silvery grey sides and a white belly. Six to seven distinct dark-coloured bands also run long the body lengthwise. The fish averages from two to four kilograms and is strong, sturdily built with thick, hard scales. As an algae eater, grey mullet is a very clean, vegetarian fish whose roe are also considered a delicacy.
Slow-growing, long-lived and late-maturing, grey mullet is one of three mullet species which occur in northern European waters. These fish can live to a reported age of up to 25 years with maturity occurring at nine years for males and 11 years for females. Spawning generally occurs from January through April at sea. The eggs develop in the sea and juveniles migrate inshore, colonizing the intertidal zone and estuaries. Grey mullet eat algae and live inshore, entering lagoons, estuaries and rivers. The species can be found from the Mediterranean to North Sea.
This fishery uses curtains of netting suspended by a system of floats and weights along the seashore to catch fish. The fine netting is almost invisible so fish unwittingly get caught in the mesh.