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Wadden Sea Traditional Fishers - Slow Food Presidia

Wadden Sea Traditional Fishers


The Wadden Sea, (Waddenzee in Dutch) is known as the Netherland’s ‘sea of mud’ for its grey inter-tidal environment of mudflats, wetland and low-lying islands, with dikes and causeways on the mainland. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it stretches along 500 kilometers, from northern Netherlands to southern Denmark.
What today look like islands, were once coastal dunes. Between the 10th and the 14th century the sea advanced by about 450 kilometers, covering huge surfaces of peatland and creating a shallow inland sea that today covers more than 10,000 square kilometers. Mankind has also played a part in shaping the Wadden Sea, creating a system of dams along the coastline to reclaim a portion of land from the sea. In the Netherlands the dams also protect the fresh waters of Yssel Lake, which is fed via a Rhine tributary.
In the Dutch section of the Wadden Sea, from the village of Den Oelder to the German border, 35 artisan fishermen continue to use traditional methods to fish in this unique environment. They are last to use fixed equipment that is secured to specific points, such as fish pots, long-lines and nets, rather than mobile fishing gear. These are in essence types of traps, with their effectiveness changing depending on the location (often a few meters can make the difference) and therefore the fisher’s intimate knowledge of the environment.
Each fisher specializes in one or more techniques and works with a limited number of sea species that include mullet, sea bass, white perch, smelts, bot (a type of halibut), crabs and mussels. One of the fishermen has also been smoking fish for over forty years.

The Presidium promotes the work of the Wadden Sea traditional fishers and their products, focusing on the least exploited species. In particular, it assists with marketing, consumer education and training activities for young people.
The fishers also participate in a traceability project supported by the Canadian NGO Ecotrust and created at Slow Fish 2011. In this project, fishes are individually labeled with a unique code. End-consumers can easily trace back when, where and by whom their fish was caught. The website provides background information on the fishers, fishing methods and environment.
Other projects that the fishers are engaged in include: direct sale projects in cooperation with various restaurants and a producers’ market in Amsterdam; labelling the fish as certified regional product; and a small cafeteria where Wadden Sea fish is sold alongside top quality products from the natural park (meat, cheese, etc.).

Production area
The Wadden Sea and Northsea beaches of the Wadden Islands, from the North West point of Holland to the German border.

Technical partner

35 fishers

Barbara Rodenburg-Geertsema
tel. +31 651063180

Hans Kay

Proeflokaal 'tAiland
Haven 49A
9976 VN Lauwersoog

Presidium Coordinator
Gerard Hoogendijk
tel. +31 513419208


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