The Shrimp Fishing on Horseback event in Oostduinkerke was added to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December 2013 by UNESCO. Fishing on horse back is a tradition that exists for over 500 years. The Fishermen on horseback, who are sitting quite high on their tough looking horses are still admired by everyone as they are laboriously plowing through the waves.
The shrimp fishermen meet together on the beach with their horses. Then the nets are being attached, and the fishermen on horseback put on their traditional clothes; yellow raincoats, high boots, and a sou'wester on their heads.
Each horse gets a basket hooked on either side to the wooden saddle, it's where the catch is being kept. About two hours before low tide is the perfect time for the shrimp fishermen to go with their horses in the sea.
When the shrimp fishermen return to the beach three hours later the nets are emptied. They throw all crabs, fish and jellyfish that got stuck in the nets back into the sea. The shrimp catch itself is sieved, and all the sand is washed off.
During those months on the calendar, they depart from the Astridplein. Then this secondary occupation gets the value of a centuries-old tradition again.
The demonstration takes ±45 min.
The horse fishing demonstrations in Oostduinkerke are annual from April to September. You can find the 2023 overview of horse fishing demonstrations, with dates and times, in the calendar on the official website of the Koksijde municipality here.