Shrimp fishing on horseback – the unique Belgian tradition

August 1st, 2015 hurries to inform that Belgium Post released a special stamp issue commemorating it native and unique tradition – shrimp fishing on horseback. Combining the power of draft horses with the shrimp fishing industry, this tradition still lives strong in just one Belgian coastal village – Oostduinkerke. The issue on this interesting theme was unveiled and put into circulation on the 29thof June.

Shrimp fishing on horseback is a form of traditional craftsmanship closely connected with nature: good knowledge of the sea, the sand strip and a high level of trust and respect for the horse are essential. Fishing for shrimp with a horse-drawn drag net in the shallow water is only possible on a flat, very gently sloping coastline. This is also the biotope in which the grey shrimp, Crangon crangon, is found in abundance.

In former years the sight of southwester capped fishermen riding on draught horses was commonplace along the shores of Belgium, the Netherlands, north-eastern France and eastern England. Today you will only find a handful of them in one place: Oostduinkerke, one of the most charming beaches on the Belgian coast.

Of course, the fact that this ancient way of fishing is still used on this beach is due to the great feeling for traditions of the population of Oostduinkerke, this typical community of golden hearted fishermen; but it is also due to the fact that Oostduinkerke has an ideal beach with a gentle slope, with no underwater obstacles.

Lastly the beach at Oostduinkerke, because of its situation and its topography, makes an ideal feeding ground with excellent bait for the shrimps.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has added the shrimp fishermen on horseback of Oostduinkerke to the world list of intangible cultural heritage at its annual meeting in Azerbaijan in December 2013.

Tags: #Belgium