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Golden days for Flemish shrimp fishers: "Catches of 4,000 kilos in a few days"

The North Sea between Ostend (West Flanders) and Vlissingen (Dutch province of Zeeland) is currently awash with shrimps. Fisherman in the area say that there is a “shrimp bonanza”. “I hear that recently there have been catches of 3,000 to 4,000 kilos in barely 3 to 4 days. Normally, shrimp fishermen are happy with 2,000 kilos in a whole week," the marine scientist Willem den Heijer told VRT News.

Although strictly speaking a crustacean, the gray shrimp was named fish of the year last summer. Recently the gray shrimp has been present in unprecedented numbers off our coast. After a fairly long period of moderate catches, Flemish fishermen were suddenly started to enjoy fairly large catches of gray shrimps from the end of September. Willem den Heijer, who monitors the fish stocks off our coasts, told VRT News.

“Once in a while you have a real explosion in the number of shrimps. There are suddenly a lot of shrimps in a fairly small area”.

The current "shrimp explosion" in the southern part of the North Sea was first noticed off the coast of South Holland in mid-September and shifted southward towards Zeeland in October. “And last week they suddenly found themselves in front of the mouth of the River Scheldt, between Ostend and Vlissingen.”, Willem den Heijer told VRT News.

Exceptional?

Explosions in the number of shrimps are not so exceptional “Four years ago we had another such explosion. Then you suddenly saw German shrimp fishermen coming to the Dutch coast”, Mr den Heijer said.

The current explosion is exceptional because it has been going on for quite a long time. Shrimp fishermen have been enjoying large catches for the past two months.

“During a shrimp explosion, the catch per ship varies from 2,000 to 6,000 kilos per week, depending on the luck of the skipper. I have heard recently that there have been catches totaling 3,000 to 4,000 kilos in just 3 to 4 days. Normally they are happy with 2,000 kilos in a whole week.”

The current record catches are a welcome windfall for the shrimp fishermen, who, like so many others, are struggling with high fuel prices.

Despite the increase in supply, the consumer will not see the price of shrimps in the shops fall any time soon. The wholesale price that the shrimp fishermen currently receive has remained at around 5 euro/kilo. During the previous big "shrimp explosion", in 2018, the price was halved due to increased supply.

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