Connecting SMEs for a green economy

Traditional Yorkshire fish & chips using sustainably caught fish in the nearby shore.

Roberto RINALDI's picture

A nice example from East Riding (UK) on how it is possible to run a sustainable fish & chips restaurant catching fish from the nearby shore using intertidal gillnetting.

There is a small fish & chips restaurant very known by the locals and tourists staying in East Riding Council. Frank and his wife are the owners of this restaurant that opened by popular demand a few years after Frank started to fish off the shore of Holderness area in 2002.

The peculiarity of this restaurant is that what you find on your dish depends on what Frank finds at sea every week, fishing in one of the most sustainable ways, called intertidal shore gillnetting.

Description of the process for the case study (green solution)

From October to end of April, Frank is licensed to catch sea bass, while from April to August he is allowed to catch sea trout and salmon using the intertidal shore gillnetting. This fishing technique consists of attaching – during low tide - two 250-yards-long nets (about 229 meters-long) with a 50 yards distance (less than 46 meters) one another to ropes anchored on the shore of the Holderness coast. At the second low tide, Frank goes back to the beach and collects all the fish in the nets that during the high tide entered the nets.

This catch is then transported at the restaurant that Frank’s wife manages, and becomes the menu of the day (see picture), according to the creativity of both Frank and his wife, in this small restaurant that only opens on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Local restaurants are also supplied, when possible, by Frank. In this long list of restaurants, you can find Tickton Grange, Cerruti’s restaurants, West Wood in Beverly, the Wellington, and Wilby Manner, and much more.



The technique used to catch the fish caught by Frank can be categorised as a low impact not only in terms of environmental impact - due to the very small percentage of bycatch -, but also economically – since there is no O&M costs related to the boat; and regulation-wise because there are less rules to obey to than those applied to boat fisheries.

Few years ago, Frank obtained the MSC (Marine Stewardship Certification) that certifies the fishery meets international best practice guidelines “MSC Fisheries Standard” designed to assess if a fishery is well-managed and sustainable. This has been developed in consultation with scientists, the fishing industry and conservation groups. It reflects the most up to date understanding of internationally accepted fisheries science and best practice management. Unfortunately, Frank has not been able to keep the MSC certification (it was initially obtained for a couple of years) because of the costly process required to be able to keep using the logo.


Customers were the key input to the decision of opening the restaurant using the fish caught on the shore. Nowadays, customers are still calling Frank on a weekly basis to know what he caught and it going to be on the menu. Interestingly, customers are asking more and more frequently information about the type of fish caught, such as the provenance, the seasonality of the fish, and other information etc.


Barriers/challenges and Lessons learnt

Among the challenges that Frank has to face on a daily basis, is the presence of seaweed in nets and ropes, and it is interesting to mention that he has observed over the past years an increase quantity of weed coming in the nets, supposing it comes from the eutrophication phenomenon of the sea, or the increase of water temperature facilitating the growth of weeds, or both.

The new regulation in place enforcing landing size increase from 36 to 42 is the main threat to the business not only for the fishery but most importantly for the fish & chips restaurant that will soon shut down. Specifically this regulation puts Frank out of possibility to keep fishing using the current technique, which took decades to be developed at the current efficient levels risking to disappear forever in the UK, and potentially in Europe.

Additionally, there is a high risk that the licence cannot be renewed after the 2002 law which imposed to end the drift netting by 2020 – under which the T and J nets that Frank uses are included into. However, in 2017 there will be a review of this law to see if it is achieving the expected outcome. The point of dispute, currently, is around the unclear definition of what fishing is in the case of tide drift netting. Fishermen definition is based on the fact that the tide is going out then fishing starts because sea trout and salmon start to enter in the net against the definition provided by the bylaw.

Finally, Frank reported that to obtain the accreditation and the actual maintenance of the label is a costly process that its business and the one of his wife could unfortunately only bear for one year.

Further details

How was the green solution financed?: 
Would you characterize the green solution as: 
Medium capital intensive investment (i.e. €10,000-€30,000)
Cost savings description: 
The fish directly caught on the shore has a lower price than the one bought in the market
Operating and maintenance costs: 
Yes, low O&M costs
Technical and capacity requirements?: 

The fishing technique has improved throughout the years by Frank in a learning by doing process.

Regulatory framework prerequisites and constraints?: 

Licences to catch certain fish at certain times, as well as new regulation about increase landing size.