People, Place & Fish
Horseback shrimp fisherman, Oostduinkerke, Belgium.
Xavier Vanbillemont unloading the morning's catch on the beach, to the fascination of onlookers at Oostduinkerke, Belgium.
Throughout the summer months, the Belgian Tourist Board fund the fishermen to carry out additional fishing trips at advertised times, which attract over 10,000 visitors a year.
He is one of the twelve remaining horseback shrimp fishermen of Oostduinkerke, Belgium.
Xavier's father and grandfather were both horseback fishermen and he proudly carries on the tradition, while also owning and running a bar in the town.
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.
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.
In December 2013 Unesco recognized shrimp-fishing on horseback as intangible cultural heritage.
Copyright ©Vince Bevan. All Rights Reserved