The Electric Pulse Fisher - Thursday

Thursday januari 17th, 05.45


"I've always felt a sort of obligation to continue with the family business.", Hans tells me. His brothers work either in dredging, six weeks away, six weeks at home, or for the municipality, or are still at school. Hans was the only one who wanted to go into fishing, although he really did not always like it. He was seasick at first, and if he’s honest, a little too pessimistic by nature for this volatile industry. 'It’s hard for me to be optimistic. But I’ve always been a creature of habit, for me it’s best if not too much changes around me.’ ‘That’s seems to be a difficult characteristic for a fisherman in 2019', I respond. 'Yes. Yes, yes .. Sometimes I sometimes think that I am the only one who has these doubts’, he says, staring into the distance.

After extensive deliberation, Hans chooses to head for the auction in Scheveningen instead of Stellendam tonight. The Eben Haezer is one of the deepest ships in the fleet. Stellendam has a tidal port, which means that Hans can only dock when there is a flood. That also determines how long he can continue fishing. today In order to have the fish on shore in time at the exit so he partakes in the auction of eight hours, he would have to dock in Stellendam at twelve o'clock at night, and therefore have to stop sailing three or four hours earlier. The harbour of Scheveningen, on the other hand, you can sail in independently of ebb and flow, so he can do one or two extra hauls, which could make a difference of € 2000-2500.

We eat Chicken Madras for lunch. I did mess up and talk through prayer before or after the meal.

23:49 In the wheelhouse, Peter is on watch duty. It is dark, the only illumination comes from the screens around us, and the lights of other ships in the distance. Peter is curious about the image I got from them this week. 'Fishermen are not all cowboys,' he says. 'That picture does exist, and partly rightly so, when you look at the arms race in engine power in the 70s and 80s. It really escalated there, fishermen were increasing horsepower to catch as much fish as possible, even up to 4000 hp. In the late 1980s, the government imposed a limitation on a maximum of 2000 hp. That rule has brought some peace. Maybe sometimes the fisherman does need some external limitations. But ..." Peter’s looking for words. He seems desperate to correct that wrong image, that image of the fisherman who exploits the seas. "Look, we have our faith, or let me speak for myself. From my faith I have the assignment to take good care of nature. Emptying the seas is against my nature."

Peter and Hans are relatively well off. They stepped into the company of their fathers when they were young, they have had a few good years behind them, also thanks to the pulse. They have 'some fat on the bones'. If they should have to stop unexpectedly, there is no debt of millions hanging over their heads. But that is not necessarily the same for the 83 other holders of an exemption.

Peter is varyingly sensitive to the arguments of 'threatened' coastal fishermen named by environmental organization Bloom. At Boulogne and Dunkirk they suffer mainly from Dutch fishermen who fish with a different new technique, the flyshoot. This fishes very efficiently on unquoted red gurnard, red mullet and octopus, and they use pulse as a scapegoat. 'It is understandable, at least I understand that they are frustrated'. The gill net fishers of IJmuiden fish within the 12-mile zone. The Eben Haezer can not fish there as a 40-meter ship, but a euro cutters, ships under 24 meters, are allowed to, and there are also pulse fishers in that group. 'But if you look at the ratio large and small, there are many more big cutters than euro cutters', Hans adds.

That it is difficult to earn a living as a gill net fisher, according to Peter, is true, but is independent of the pulse. Perhaps the British fishermen at the Thames Estuary are the only ones who can rightly say that they really suffer from Dutch pulse fishermen, according to Peter.

In the evening we eat crispy fried Smac on bread and watched the news for the fourth time today. The content hardly changes during the course of the day: a Dutch journalist is expelled from Turkey, a Dutch snowboarder is convicted of negligent homicide after skiing accident in Austria, and Theresa May is calling in vain for cooperation in parliament.

Maarten Kuiper