De lêtste fiskers fan Laaxum

Raised between the Frisian lakes, the desire to be surrounded by water is part of who I am. When I’m out of inspiration or when I need to be “in touch” again I surround myself with water. Sometimes I go to Laaxum.

The sound of silence and water, the view that’s always different because of the light, the animals, the snack bar with its charm, the ‘Hang’ and that one fishing boat.
The harbor of Laaxum is unique because it is so small. It is said that it is the smallest in Europe that is still used by fishermen. She was the home of the fishermen in the group of houses hidden behind the dike. After more than a hundred years, there is only one pair of fishermen left in Laaxum: the brothers Jan and Joop de Vries with the HL 6.
They fish for the “Laaxumer bot”, which is a recognized regional since 2009. Through a new fisheries agreement fishermen have to reduce the number of nets by 85 percent. This makes the future for these fisherman very insecure.
Despite it’s almost impossible for these brothers to keep doing this work, and likely to be the final piece of this tradition, they are still making the best out of it together. Because of necessity, but also because of their passion for the job.
And I had the possibility and the honor to capture this passion.

Laaxum, 03-06-2016

It’s foggy, Laaxum lies quiet and deserted in the early morning. We sail out of the harbor on the HL6.
As far as we can see, we are the only one on the water.
Around us awaken the swans and a cormorant flies past us.
The monotonous but loud noise from the engine means that we have to talk loud to each other.
The short conversations firmly told afar.
A modern looking device let us know how deep it is below the dark surface.
An old-fashioned compass brings us into the foggy conditions into the traps.
The first trap is in sight and a slight tension can be read on the faces.
As a well-oiled machine they operate.
Without exchanging a word with each other.
It’s almost meditative.
Joop is at the helm and Jan gets the trap inside.
Jan clears up the trap stick and Joop sort the fish from the net.
The Laaxumer bot is accurately measured, at least 28 centimetres they should be able to meet the permit.
The other catch is put back.
Together they eliminate the net.
And so it goes on, until all the nets are brought in.
The catch is disappointing ….