Arie de Visser spent last week trawling for langoustines and after five days at sea, the crew of four docked in Den Oever. Once the catch had been landed, Arie de Visser took the time to answer six questions for EMK’s Michel Verschoor.
Langoustines landed on a Saturday morning are super-fresh on many fresh fish markets, but where do you catch them?
‘We’re fishing 80 nautical miles north-west of Den Helder we catch them on soft ground in the Botneygat and the Silver Pit. That’s twelve hours of steaming from Den Oever, on the line between the Dutch and the British North Sea areas. We fish in the summer for langoustines and in the winter for Dutch shrimps.’
Which gear do you use?
‘We fish with the quad-rig trawls on langoustines, four nets in a horizontal line. Langoustines are just above the bottom when the weather is good. In bad weather they shelter in the ground and you catch less. Last week was the spring tide with a strong current and changeable, not great weather. The catch was half of what it was the previous week, but the prices were good, so it was still a good fishing week. We get an average of around €7 per kg. On the fresh fish market they are usually a maximum of €15 per kg, but I have also seen higher prices. Almost €22 in Zeebrugge and in Paris they fetch €40. So you see that the fish selling business is a profitable one.’
You have been a member of campaign group Eendracht Maakt Kracht (EMK) for some time now. Why?
‘I hope and believe that EMK, as the direct voice of the fishermen, can achieve more at crucial moments than the regular fishing organisations. EMK can work harder if necessary, so it can say and do more. It may be doing too little for the shrimp fleet, but I realise that it’s volunteer work and a lot of work goes into this. All the same, we will have unite as fishermen. In the meantime, I hope that there will soon be one fishing industry organisation after the last attempt to bring them together failed at the last moment. As a single organisation, you have more credibility and strength.’
As a fisherman, what do you have the most concerns about?
‘About wind farms and the fishing bans in those areas, and about the landing obligation for undersized and non-target by-catch. For real opposition, you really need one organisation. I see that 90% of all fishermen have the same opinion. These are all active fishermen. Division is no benefit to the fleet as a whole.’
‘We are a family business of three brothers and until recently also had three boats. One boat was sold recentlyone of the brothers has left the business. I myself have nobody to follow me, because my sons do not want to go to sea. That means that I will find something else to do in about five years. Continuity is a problem in fisheries. There are other companies that are also facing this. What I also have to deal with is a lot of work and the enormous mountain of regulations that keeps you busy all day long.’
Back to that delicious, but relatively unknown product you have; how do you show it to people?
‘We like to do this ourselves at fish festivals, such as Vistival Den Oever and Havenvistijn Texel. Then we cook up large quantities for visitors and let people taste. Dutch are sometimes reluctant. People from the Antilles, Suriname, Morocco or Turkey go straight for the shellfish, and they have an incredible flavour! After cooking them in a wok you can add some chilli sauce, oyster sauce or soya, or just some pepper and salt. It is a pure product, straight from the sea, delicious on a fresh baguette.’