Connecting SMEs for a green economy

Ocean Rewards: The sustainable, low impact artisanal fishmongers

Roberto RINALDI's picture

Andrew Sanderson is one of only five low-impact shore fishermen licensed to fish off of England’s East coast using only the power of tides. Andrew’s fishing is very low environmental impact since it is entirely boat free and the caught produce is sold locally by his wife Karen in their own fishmongers - Ocean Rewards.

Twenty years ago there used to be more than 50 boats based at the East Yorkshire harbour town of Bridlington, fishing extensively along the off the Holderness coast of the North East of England.  They caught all types of fish, but due to declines in available stock, and the change of the type of fish available in these waters, only twenty to thirty boats remain; fishing exclusively for lobster and crab.

Despite this decline in traditional fishing, since the 1990s bass has become increasingly available on the East Riding Yorkshire coast. This prompted to Andrew to decide to drastically change his way of doing business, transitioning to a sustainable boat-free fishing system, which deploys nets at low and high tides. The fish caught is either sold in the fish shop Ocean Rewards - named after the trawler that had been in the family for many years - or distributed to local restaurants.  


Description of the green solution

Intertidal gillnetting with nets set from the shore is an artisanal fishery technique aimed at targeting – in Andrew’s case - mainly bass and sea trout, taking advantage of large tidal ranges to be completely submerged at high tide off the Bridlington coast.   

During the first low tide of the day, the nets are attached to the wires anchored on the shore (as shown in the picture).

This traditional technique is highly labour intensive, and Andrew can only rely on himself to collect all the fish in the nets before high tide starts again.

Once the nets are settled, then Andrew waits for the next low tide, during which he will collect all the bass and sea trout caught in the net. He has to be quick since seagulls, foxes and other animals are attracted by the fish and can break the nets to take some of this fish, resulting in damages to the nets as well as reduction of catch.

The catch is then transported to the Ocean Rewards, where it is sold daily by Andrew’s wife Karen at their fishmongers on Hilderthorpe Road, Bridlington along with freshly prepared crab and lobster sourced from the local market. If necessary, Karen and Andrew also offer customers advice on the best methods for preparation and cooking their produce.



The bycatch (unintentional catch) from the intertidal shore gillnetting technique is estimated at only 2% of the total catch, making it amongst the most sustainable fishing techniques for stock preservation, as well as being very low emission due to the lack of a boat. Indeed, the only powered transportation in the process is on land - between the shore and the shop, and between the shop and the local market. Unfortunately, precise total emissions figures to quantify this saving haven’t been measured, but Andrew and Karen are keen to investigate this in the future.



Ocean Rewards did not receive any external support directly related to this green solution. The whole amount necessary as initial investment was funded by private funds.


Barriers/challenges and Lessons learnt

Currently, there is a new EU regulation increasing the minimum landing size for sea bass from 36cm to 42cm to encourage the recovery of stocks following a 20% decline in numbers across the European Union in the past decade. Despite agreeing with the general aim of this new regulation of protecting the sea bass stocks, the implementation of this one-size-fits-all regulation for all methods of catch (however sustainable) endangers the viability shore fishing along the Holderness coast, and poses a severe threat to the Ocean Rewards business.

Furthermore, this new regulations require additional investment of several thousand pounds to procure new suitable nets, as well as costs related to the disposal of the old nets, which are currently not possible to estimate due to a lack of information in the regulation.

Further details

How was the green solution financed?: 
Would you characterize the green solution as: 
Medium to low capital intensive investment (i.e. €3,000 -€10,000)
Operating and maintenance costs description: 
The cost of maintaining the nets entire, the cost of transport between the shore and the shop, personnel costs. There is also the cost of license to include in the O&M costs.
Cost savings description: 
In comparison with maintaining a boat to fish, it is way less expensive to fish on the coast.
Operating and maintenance costs: 
Yes, low O&M costs
Material consumption savings description: 
It has been estimated that it is produced only about 2% of discard, meaning that this fishing technique produces very low amount of discard in comparison with all other fishing techniques.
Technical and capacity requirements?: 

High amount of skills and know-how is required to master this technique. It is necessary to know very well the tide timing and height, as well as the capability to foresee the behaviour of fishes according to the season and weather.

Regulatory framework prerequisites and constraints?: 

Since a decade ago, this technique has been licensed and only a few fishermen are currently exercising business.
As mentioned before, there are now two laws that will potentially impact Ocean Rewards heavily because they put the business’s viability at risk through new costs.