With its North Sea coastline punctuated by old seafaring towns and villages, fishing has been a part of Holland’s lifeblood for centuries. Today, the nation continues to sustainably harvest the rich fisheries of the North Sea, bringing freshly caught produce direct to the tables and counters of Dutch fishmongers, ranging from high-end seafood restaurants to traditional street food vendors and market stalls.
- Taste fresh fish straight from the North Sea, caught in a sustainable manner.
- Experience the buzzing activity of the fish auction and see the wide varieties of North Sea fish available.
- Discover how Dutch chefs at some of the country’s finest seafood restaurants cook with fish.
North Sea fish in Holland
Holland’s rich maritime history has helped to create a modern fishing fleet that’s won the Dutch industry a major position on the international market, and is now leading the way in sustainable fishing thanks to a combination of policy reform and advocacy. The Dutch fleets comprise mainly of cutters and trawlers, fishing the nutrient-rich coastal waters of the North Sea for a wide variety of species – the most popular include flat fish like plaice and sole, as well as herring, mackerel, cod, and haddock. In addition, the fleet also includes sophisticated vessels for harvesting mussels.
Famous Dutch fishing towns
Many of these vessels belong to the fleets of Scheveningen, Katwijk and Stellendam, all historical maritime towns with a rich fishing heritage. As well as its large fleet, Scheveningen is known for its daily fish auction, which provides an essential link between the fishermen and trade, helping the morning’s catch to make its way from the sea to the plate in a matter of hours. The lively auction begins at 7am, as soon as the fish have been unloaded from the boats. Further south, in the province of Zeeland, the harbor town of Stellendam also holds a weekly fish market every Friday morning, with guided tours available.
Straight from the sea to your plate
There are many opportunities to taste fresh North Sea fish in Holland – from the finest seafood restaurants to the street food traders selling fresh herring and ‘kibbeling’ (North Sea cod pieces fried in batter). Scheveningen marina is lined by a range of elegant seafood restaurants, where you can sample freshly caught fish with views of the harbour or sea, or why not dine on fresh fish with your feet in the sand at the beach restaurants of Katwijk. Stellendam is home to several high-quality seafood restaurants, such as Restaurant Zoet of Zout, which is situated next to the marina, looking out onto part of the Delta Works. So sea-to-plate freshness is certainly guaranteed.
More to do
Whilst visiting the Zuid-Holland beaches of Scheveningen or Katwijk, be sure to take time to head slightly inland and explore the rich cultural attractions of The Hague or the picturesque university town of Leiden.
Editor’s tip: For a quick lunch or snack whilst in Scheveningen, try the Hollandse Nieuwe herring from Simonis, brought in straight from the early morning fish auction and best enjoyed with onions and pickles. To really experience Dutch herring culture, visit Scheveningen on ‘Vlaggetjesdag’ (Flag Day), held each year in June. With this event, the city celebrates the start of herring season and the first barrel of herring is auctioned off. It may sell for tens of thousands of euros and each year the profit is traditionally donated to charity.