People, Place & Fish
Horseback shrimp fisherman, Ooostduinkerke, Belgium.
Shrimp fishermen sit in wooden saddles on their horses, which drag large nets behind them. Draft horses famous for their enormous strength, such as the Brabant or Hainaut breed, are used for this task.
The catch is then transported through the streets of Oostduinkerke on carts.
Shrimp fishing on horseback was once a popular form of fishing in certain areas of Belgium, France, Holland and England.
Oostduinkerke is the only place left in the world where this 500 year old tradition is still in practice.
These days, none of the fishermen can rely on fishing for their living and consequently have additional jobs, but this tradition gives the community a strong sense of collective identity and plays a central role in social and cultural events.
In December 2013 Unesco recognized shrimp-fishing on horseback as intangible cultural heritage.
© Vince Bevan. All Rights Reserved.