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One day on the North Sea

Lild Strand, population 60, is a tiny fishing village on the northwest coast of Denmark. Often subjected to the harsh winds and cold temperatures of the North Sea, the habitants of Lild Strand are used to a way of life largely dependent on nature’s will.

I spent several days on the water with fisherman Ole Eriksen who still practices his trade the same way as generations before. Ole’s boat is smaller in comparison to the large vessels docked in the neighboring port town of Hanstholm. And since Lild Strand is a beach, the fisherman must store their boats on the sand thanks to an intricate system of cables and pulleys which pull them out of the water.

When the weather cooperates, Ole is up at 4:30 a.m. and on the water by 5:30, often remaining at sea until 3 p.m. before returning with his catch. According to Ole and fellow fisherman, however, the future of their work is in severe danger. For example, large trawlers which spend many days at sea do not catch fish in an ecological manner.

Rather, they extract tons of fish from the sea and later, dump many dead fish back into the water in order to meet quotas. Ole spoke of “mountains of dead fish” sitting on the North Sea floor.

Such practices put extra pressures on smaller fisherman like Ole who set nets and then collect only the fish which will go to auction based on type and size. The others are thrown, alive, back to sea. Like many jobs negatively effected by mass-industrialization, fishing is no exception. I hope that regulations will encourage the replenishment of fish populations, and that small fisherman will be able to continue their livelihood.

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