Paardenvissers: the last Knights of the seas



Since December 2013, shrimp fishing on horseback has been inscribed on the list of intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO.


Shrimp fishing on horseback is an ancestral tradition that has been practiced in Belgium since the 15th century

At that time, the practice of this activity was common in Flanders, because it allowed peasants and farmers to have additional income.

Practiced then on the entire North Sea coast (in France, Belgium, Holland and even in the south of England) it is perpetuated today only in Oostduinkerke

In the 1950s, the last teams of shrimp fishermen on horseback almost disappeared due to the constant upheaval of their environment: the coastline which was, by the way rather flat and regular, has gradually changed; many "holes" (which move at the time of storms) appeared and thus gave rise to much less practicable ground for these horseman of the sea.

This activity has become a real tourist attraction on the beaches of Oostduinkerke and Nieuwpoort-baden Belgium.

Initially, sinners used mules for their calm and their pulling power.

Formerly, the "Dredge" (long conical net) was attached to a wooden slat, thick and 4m wide, the front face of which was rounded in the shape of a cone.

Work is almost always done in a team

Nowadays there are only 10 (there were only 7 in 1968 and only 3 in 2000), but young people will follow, because passion is often transmitted from generation to generation in the same family.


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