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IJsselmeer fishery heritage tied to sailing botters

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ELBURG A local foundation that promotes the IJsselmeer coastal town's fishery heritage, popularly known as the Botterstichting, celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. The botter, a sail fishing vessel type used in nearly all the fishing villages around the lake, became redundant when the lake's fishery was marginalized. Its small scale rendered it increasingly uncompetitive and when the surge barrier, the Afsluitdijk, was built, it cut the tidal-prone Zuiderzee from the open sea and caused many fishermen to look for other work. The remaining botters, there are about 60 of them, are now helping to promote the fishery heritage with a new Elburg shipyard (werf), set up to represent the timeframe of the early 1900s, destined as a historic ship restoration centre with a botter speciality. At its height, Elburg was home to about 70 of such vessels. There still are 15 botters left, nearly all owned by enthusiasts who volunteer their time to the cause. Princess Margriet is scheduled to open the shipyard.