I found myself in the Netherlands for a two days, in a flying visit to IJmuiden and Katwijk. I went to chat to a few people about all kinds of interesting things, things mostly of the fishing gear variety.
Both towns are of the small yet quite nice type, the kind of places you know have been around for a while and will be for some time. In IJmuiden I met with two great guys, Dirk van Beelen and Bob van Marlen. Dirk van Beelen met me at his offices, kindly talking me through the role of synthetics and mesh sizes form the late 50’s onwards, giving me some good background information and a launching point for research for the Netherlands. A quick tour of the pace ended with some useful information about Van Beelen Netten – a venerable company which started in 1900 as a trading company with Dirk’s grandfather, importing and selling material to the fishing industry. Dirk’s father took the company further by creating a factory floor and working with rope and twine, graduating to netting machines and selling product internationally. When Dirk himself started, aiming to expand further afield. Now Dirk’s daughter, Caroline, runs the business. Interestingly, Engel Netz in Bremerhaven bought netting form Van Beelen post-war, Engel Netz going on to be an integral part of the first successful single boat pelagic trawl.
Bob van Marlen supplied a wealth of contacts and some key data for the development of pelagic trawls form the 70’s, not to mention the fact that there is a peligac trawl in an Ancient Egyptian tomb somewhere…
In Katwijk I was met by Gijsbert van der bent of Visserij Nieuws, who translated for me (as well as taking some nice pictures) and Floor Kuijt. Floor came prepared, with a suitcase of material including diagrams and drawings and explanations. Several cups of tea and a lot of notes later, I have a pretty solid idea of the start and progression of pelagic trawling in the Netherlands – although I think it will take me a week to sort throughout the pile of notes I’ve made!