The Holderness Coast fishery (covering the East Riding of Yorkshire coast from Flamborough Head in the north to Spurn Point in the south) has seen significant change in the recent past with the decline of whitefish stocks and restrictions on fishing.
These factors have, in part, resulted in the development of the major shell-fishery which can be seen today.
Bridlington is now the most important port in the UK for lobster landings and is one of the most significant in Europe. In 2012 local fishermen landed a total of 3,131 tonnes of a variety of fish into Bridlington worth £6.4m, of which 375 tonnes were lobster worth £3.6m. In addition 2,313 tonnes of crab were landed worth £2.6m. Other major species landed include bass, cod, skate, sole and whelks.
The inshore fishery directly supports around 150 fishermen and over 60 small boats operating out of Bridlington port and from landing sites along the coast, including at Hornsea and Withernsea. The fishery indirectly supports many hundreds of other local jobs including in transport, wholesaling and retailing.
Much of the shellfish landed at local ports is sold into Europe, particularly France, Spain and Portugal where it is much prized.
The artisan nature of the local inshore industry, run by small businesses in a sustainable way, is very different to the larger scale trawling activity seen operating out of other European ports. Based on potting activity, there are very strict regulations about the size of crab and lobster that can be landed and increasingly, local fishermen are adopting new methods to protect local fish stocks. For example, the Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) has helped fund the introduction of escape gaps and plastic bottoms to lobster pots to reduce the catching of undersized fish and reduce damage to individuals. In addition, the local Fishing Industry Group, representing the interests of the local industry is wishing to develop a local lobster hatchery to help replenish lobster stocks.
However, a major issue facing the industry is the development of major off-shore wind farms many of which directly affect lobster grounds. The local industry is working with developers to limit the impact of development on the fishery. One of the projects part funded by the FLAG is a research vessel operated by the Fishing Industry Group to determine and help plan to limit the impact of potential future development.