Meet The Fleet

Discover the types of boats and fishing techniques up and down the coast that land your evening meal.

Today's fishing fleet on the East Yorkshire Coast is almost entirely inshore with shellfish being the main catch. This is distinct change from the traditional image of fishing in the area - that of trawling for cod and haddock which was an accurate portrayal for the larger part of the 20th Century. The change has come about partly due to imposed restrictions on fishing depleted stocks and to the growth of a lucrative export market of shellfish to mainland Europe.

Edible crab and lobster are now the main focus of activity in spring and summer with a little off-shore fishing from cod nets and longlines in the colder months and small spring catches of sole, sea bass, plaice, turbot and rays from flatfish nets. Sea trout and small quantities of salmon are also caught locally.

Fishing is carried out from harbours and beaches along the coast with each location often having its own unique character and types of boat.

[Figures are based on 2010 data]

The fleet's largest concentration of vessels is at Bridlington harbour where 40+ boats are crewed by approximately a hundred men with another 250 people in direct employment from the activities of the harbour. Between them they have over 30,000 pots and the crustacean catch alone is estimated to be worth £6million making Bridlington by volume and value the largest shellfish port in Europe. Visitors to the harbour will see a fleet comprised of larger boats as well as small cobles, minikeel-boats and fast-workers plus some pleasure fishing craft - Bridlington no longer has any dedicated trawlers. Twelve licensed fishermen use mainly T and J-nets to catch sea trout and a few salmon. The harbour is also home to some boat-building activity as well as being a focal point for the area's tourism industry but the bulk of shellfish processing is carried out abroad, Bridlington's main role being the landing and packing of shellfish for export.

Just up the coast from Bridlington and known for its imposing chalk cliffs, Flamborough has two landings from which 6 boats work, some of those only operating seasonally. Combined these vessels set a total of 1600 pots to target the mixed shellfish fishery throughout the year. Nets are used for cod, taking by-catches of ling, rays, pollack, whiting and sea bass from autumn until spring. In spring and summer, two beach boats from South Landing set gill nets for cod and other roundfish, and nets are also set for flatfish, particularly sole. Two cobles from North Landing also take out angling parties and sightseeing trips.

Approximately half way down the Holderness Coast, Hornsea is home to 7 beach boats of 5-9 m which are active throughout the year supporting 14 fishermen. The mainstay of the fleet is potting targeting brown crabs and lobsters with an estimated 4440 pots altogether. Several boats use large mesh nets outside of the 5m depth contour for cod and whiting during winter, although stormy weather and strong tides significantly reduce effort.

Tunstall and Withernsea
The most exposed part of this coast, the Withernsea stretch of coastline plays host to 11 regular beach boats with many more joining the fleet in summer and working up to 400 pots each. The main catch is brown crab and lobster and also some netting for flatfish, cod is often caught in winter and spring, when fishing is often restricted by the weather. Two licensed netsmen fish for sea trout with T-nets.

Spurn Point, Kilnsea and Stone Creek
One beach-launched boat fishes full-time throughout the year, setting nets for cod and flatfish weather and tides permitting. Pots are set out to a few miles offshore for brown crabs and lobsters. Several part-time boats set pots and the occasional net in the summer. Several angling boats are active during the weekends.




A snapshot of the coast
On the sands