History of the fishing industry
Fishery important since Middle Ages
For centuries, fishing on the North Sea has been the main source of income for Katwijk aan Zee. As early as the Middle Ages, the people of Katwijk went to sea to catch fish. The lack of a harbour made it necessary to fish from the beach in flatboats. As fishing wasn’t always worth the effort, there were ways to supplement the income, like shipping freight, or smuggling.
Development of fishing boats
After the ban on gutting herring was lifted for fishermen along the Dutch coast in 1850, the fishing industry slowly prospered. The fleet grew from approximately 30 vessels in 1850 to about 70 in 1900. After the (sailing) lugger was introduced as a new type of fishing vessel, all the flatboats were replaced between 1895 and 1915. The lugger however, a keel-vessel with excellent sailing capacities, needed a harbour. The Katwijk fisherman started using the harbours of IJmuiden, Vlaardingen and Maassluis. River craft were used to transport the load to Katwijk and back. The crews travelled by train, lorry or bus. In 1916 the Katwijk fleet came to a provisional head with approximately 130 sailing vessels.
Between the world wars the fishery was a harsh life. Many shipping companies went bankrupt as a result of the crisis, and quite a lot of ships were confiscated. At the same time, those who survived fitted their luggers with engines, to be less dependable of the wind. Part of the confiscated fleet was sold in the thirties to skippers who wanted to start their own business: the start of the self-employed fishermen. The rest of the vessels was sold off to Scandinavia, to be used as freighters.
After the war
During the years of occupation, part of the fleet was requisitioned, and only some of these boats were recovered afterwards. The first years after the war yielded great results for the fishing industry. As a result of modernising the fleet and the processing, the herring was more and more brought in by motor trawlers that were introduced from 1955 onwards. The use of driftnets slowly declined through shortage of manpower on the mostly outdated vessels. By 1965, this fishing method had disappeared altogether. As a result, the transport by river craft, the net fielding and net mending vanished as well.
No harbour in Katwijk
After 1950 the number of self-employed fishermen grew fast. Anyone who dared, could start his own business. By 1965, the Katwijk fleet had grown to 180 vessels. But still no harbour! The yearning for a seaport was regularly made known. The last attempt was made in 1963, but to no avail. IJmuiden became Katwijk’s definite homeport. After 1970, the number of vessels declined dramatically. However, Katwijk was still seen as an important fishing village. When the hitherto state-owned port of IJmuiden was privatised, Katwijk took a share in the newly formed Seaport IJmuiden, to confirm that this town had been the homeport of the Katwijk fleet for years. Nowadays, part of Katwijk’s population still depends on fishing. Although the fleet has been reduced to ten modern ships, the revival of the fishery training school proves that fishing is still in the Katwijk genes.