Barbara Geertsema and Jan Rodenburg
Reclaiming the sea
Netherlands | Waddensee | Lauwersoog
Dutch fisherman and Terra Madre network member Jan Rodenburg is a passionate defender of sustainable artisanal fishing techniques, as is his wife Barbara Geertsema.
One of their first steps was to contact local environmental NGOs, to demonstrate that their artisanal methods were not harming the natural equilibriums of the Waddensee, where Jan fishes for grey (flathead) mullet. This tidal mudflat environment along the North Sea coast has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar wetland of international importance.
Then, with a group of other small-scale fishers from the region, Jan and Barbara drew up a very strict protocol for allowable fishing methods and gear, specific to the environment and fish species being targeted (a net mesh size of 11 centimeters to allow juvenile mullet to escape, for example).
Once a week Jan takes his fish to a market where he can sell directly to consumers and explain to them the difference between sustainable local fish and fish caught without care for the sea’s resources.
Hoping to tell his story to a wider public and demonstrate the existence of alternatives to the globalized industrial fishing system, he agreed to feature in a documentary, Goede Vissers (Good Fishers).