Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Shrimp fishing is slowly disappearing in Belgium

Shrimp fishing on horseback was once very popular in Belgium. However, at present, the number of fishermen still pursuing this profession is decreasing.

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Oostduinkerke (Belgium) lies on the southern edge of the frigid North Sea. Oostduinkerke's quiet beach is home to an exceptional horse-riding fisherman. They wear signature yellow shirts, ride on strong Brabant horses to catch shrimp hidden in the sea water. Photo: BBC.
In the past, catching shrimp on horseback was quite popular with fishing families living in the North Sea area from France to Germany and the south of England. Today, only about 17 people continue to follow this profession. They live in Oostduinkerke. According to the old custom, this profession is passed from father to son and is only for men. Photo: BBC.
These fishermen wear traditional yellow suits that are waterproof. They tied two woven baskets on either side of the horse. Behind the horse pulled a funnel-shaped net about 9 m long. Fishermen go into the sea at low tide. When the water reaches the horse's chest, they will control the horses to pull the net. At the end of the day, these people removed the net and loaded the shrimp into two baskets worn on the horse's waist. Photo: BBC.
Normally, each time of this type of fishing, fishermen will earn about 10-13 kg of shrimp. Other creatures such as jellyfish and small fish caught in the net will be released back into the sea. Fishing is usually done about twice a week, except during the winter months. Photo: Pinterest.
Brabant horse with large body and strength is an important factor to help fishermen move in the sea. According to Atlas Obsucra, people here often joke: "If you want to fish on horseback, you must first love your horse. Some people here even say they seem to love horses more than their wives. The two need to build trust. The first time seeing the waves, the horse is definitely not interested," the newspaper wrote. Photo: Equinenow.
The shrimp are processed according to their own recipe or sold. This is an important ingredient for local seafood dishes. Photo: BBC.
Shrimp fishing on horseback is increasingly disappearing as society develops. Modern fishing boats can help fishermen earn more. Since then, people who are interested in this profession have gradually decreased. Photo: Getty.
However, in 2013, this strange fishing method was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage. This makes the fishermen more motivated to preserve this cultural beauty. By 2016, women were also allowed to participate in horseback shrimp fishing. Nele Bekaert, a 37-year-old mother of three, is the first recognized female shrimp fisherman. Before that, she also had to undergo 2 years of training and some tests to be able to officially work. Photo: BBC.

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