The Horseback Fishermen of Oostduinkerke

Photo of The Horseback Fishermen of Oostduinkerke

On the western end of Belgium’s short coastline, about 20 km east of Dunkirk, France, is a place called Oostduinkerke (meaning “East Dunkirk”), where a handful of fishermen practice an unusual form of fishing. Instead of using boats, these fishermen ride out to the sea on horseback.

These horseback fishermen hunt for a special variety of shrimp—the Crangon crangon, commonly known as grey shrimp, which is found in the southern North Sea, and is a delicacy in Belgium. Five centuries ago, shrimp fishing on horseback was practiced all across the North Sea coast from France to the Netherland, and even on the South of England. Today, this activity is restricted to only a few miles of the coastline in Oostduinkerke. What was once a full-time job is now just a hobby—a show put up by the last of the surviving horseback fishermen for the tourists.

Photo credit: Michel VR/Wikimedia

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