Processing Industry

Fish can be cut in fillets, be marinated, smoked, conserved or treated on other ways before offering to consumers. The Netherlands count about 400 companies, that take care of processing fish and trading fish. About 25% of it is concentrated to flatfish (sole and plaice in particular). Also the industry for scale- and shellfish convers about 25% of the whole industry.

Processing Industry
One of the companies with a large processing industry of fish

The Dutch fish-processing industry consists of approximately 300 sites. The most important sites of the processing industry are Urk, Yerseke, Katwijk, Spakenburg, IJmuiden, Lemmer and Zoutkamp. Furthermore, fish products are traded on a regular or incidental basis by a few hundred wholesale companies without processing facilities.

Within industrial fish processing in the Netherlands, there is a distinction between:

  • Round and flatfish industry
  • Processing herring
  • Smokehouses for salmon and eel
  • Trade in frozen pelagic fish
  • Shellfish sector
  • Processing shrimps
  • Inland fish wholesale
  • Other fish processing and wholesale

An estimated 6,500 people work in the fish-processing sector, and approximately 20% of the employees are employed on a temporary basis. The labour requirement depends on the varying availability of raw materials. 

Pelagic fishing

The target species of the pelagic fishing activities are small pelagic fish species such as herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, sardinella, blue whiting, sardine and silversmelt. They swim together in shoals and often migrate over large distances in the sea.

According to official health experts, the consumption of fish twice a week gives a positive contribution to the composition of our diet. At least one of these portions should be an oily fish. ‘Oily' fish include almost all of the species caught by the PFA-fleet. All fish are excellent sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, but oily fish is particularly nutritious because it contains high levels of the fatty acid, omega-3. Oily fish also provide vitamin A, D en E and minerals as iodine and selenium. The nutritional value of fish is even more important in those situations in which the total dietary package is insufficient.

Sea frozen fish, produced by members of the PFA, are used for human consumption. The efficiency of the fishing activities and the immediate freezing of the catch on board ensure a relatively low price level and a high quality. The pelagic fish are chilled immediately after capture and subsequently frozen on board. This freezing and production process is carried out under strict conditions of hygiene, as controlled by the national Health Control Authorities, ruling out the chance of contamination or decay of the product. 

In the Netherlands, pelagic fishing is coordinated by the Pelagic Freeser-Trawler Association (PFA), grouping nine European companies on an international level. The food supply of frozen pelagic fish to people all over the world must be in balance with the harvesting of the pelagic fish stocks. To this end, the members of the PFA have established a joint policy in which cooperation and the transfer of knowledge on sustainable fisheries play a central role. Read more on