Fishery, an age-old profession

Viewed in economical terms, fishery is a small sector in Belgium and moreover has considerably decreased over the last decades. It however remains an important sector at the coast.

The fisheries policy is a Flemish policy competence, but is regulated at the level of the European Union by the European Common Fisheries Policy. The Common Fisheries Policy aims  to address the main problems the (European) fishery sector is faced with:

• surplus capacity of the fleet
• overfishing and bycatch
• general pressure on the marine environment

Beam trawl, the most used technique

The Flemish fishermen use, among others, otter trawls, gillnets, trammel nets and pots, but in the first place the beam trawl. The beam trawl is very efficient to catch fish that live at the bottom. It is a heavy metallic cross bar - the beam - with nets and chain mat – which are dragged over the seabed.

Beam trawl  - BMM-UGMM-MUMM

This technique is unfortunately unsustainable: the fuel consumption is very high, the seabed gets destroyed and too many species land in the nets as bycatch. Therefore, alternative fishing techniques are sought by the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO).

The most popular fish are ...

The most important species that one fishes in our North Sea are:

• sole
• plaice
• Atlantic cod
• shrimps

Other important target species include brill, monkfish, turbot, ray and lemon sole.


Aquaculture on sea is called "mariculture". As such, the mussel culture in suspension structures is for example, have been tried out in Belgium. This culture is an industrial activity and therefore a federal competence; hence a licence and an environmental impact assessment (EIA) are required. Areas were demarcated for mariculture In the Belgian Part of the North Sea.

More info about fisheries and the fishing techniques in Flanders?

Visit the website ILVO, the Department of Agriculture & Fisheries and the Foundation for Sustainable Fisheries Development (SDVO).