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    Fishermen on Horseback recognised by UNESCO

    In December 2013, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) added the fishermen on horseback of Oostduinkerke on the Flemish coast of Belgium to the world list of intangible cultural heritage.

    Shrimp fishing on horseback is a form of traditional craftsmanship closely connected with nature. Good knowledge of the sea, the beach and sea interface, and a high level of trust and respect for the horse are essential.

    Shrimp fishing on horseback is practised in the beach and surf zone of Oostduinkerke. This seaside town has been a part of the municipality of Koksijde since 1978 and is situated on the Belgian North Sea coast, 10 kilometres from the French border.

    Fishing for shrimp with a horse-drawn drag net in the shallow water is only possible on a flat, very gently sloping coastline. The Flemish Coast is also the biotope in which the grey shrimp, Crangon crangon, is found in abundance.

    When fishing, the horse walks breast-deep in the water, parallel to the coastline. The fishermen use funnel-shaped nets, held open by two wooden boards. A chain is dragged over the sand creating shockwaves which cause the shrimp to jump up and be caught in the net. Pulling the net, which is 7 x 10 meters, requires the tremendous strength that Brabant draft horses provide.

    Fishing is interrupted every half-hour in order to return to the beach, empty the net and sift the catch. The shrimp are then placed in the baskets that hang at the horses' sides. Later, the shrimp are cooked in fresh water.

    A whole series of practices, artefacts and instruments are connected to this traditional craftsmanship, which is supported by the households and families of the shrimp fishermen and, by extension, the community of Oostduinkerke and Koksijde as a whole. It is a paradigmatic example of a dynamic and sustainable approach to nature, and to culture, that is transmitted from generation to generation.

    Twelve households in Oostduinkerke are actively engaged in shrimp fishing: each has its own speciality, such as weaving nets, or an extensive knowledge of Brabant draft horses.  The tradition gives the community a strong sense of collective identity and plays a central role in social and cultural events. This includes the two-day Shrimp Festival for which the local community spends months building floats, preparing street theatre and making costumes. The shrimp parade, and a contest involving hundreds of children being initiated into shrimp catching, attract over 10,000 visitors every year.

    The shrimp fishers function based on principles of shared cultural values and mutual dependence. But significantly, experienced shrimpers demonstrate techniques and share their knowledge of nets, tides and currents with beginners.


    Dr Maja Wolny, Director, Nationaal Visserijmuseum Oostduinkerke


    Royal Museums Greenwich appoint new Chairman

    The Royal Museums Greenwich Board of Trustees has elected Sir Charles Dunstone as Chairman of the Museum.

    Sir Charles takes over the position from The Rt Hon The Lord Sterling of Plaistow, GCVO, CBE who has stepped down after 8 years as Chairman.

    Sir Charles Dunstone said of the appointment: “I am delighted to join Royal Museums Greenwich, it is a fantastic organisation which brilliantly shows much of the UK's maritime and astronomical history.

    “The Turner and the Sea exhibition which has just opened to critical acclaim is a prime example of the RMG using their collection and influence to put on a world class presentation.

    “I look forward to building on the extraordinary work of my predecessor Lord Sterling.”

    Sir Charles Dunstone is Chairman of Carphone Warehouse Group, TalkTalk Group and The Prince's Trust.


    Hong Kong Maritime Museum appoints Chief Curator


    Hong Kong Maritime Museum Director, Richard Wesley announced on 18 July 2013 that Dr. Tianlong Jiao has been appointed as the museum’s Chief Curator. Educated at Peking University and Harvard University, Dr. Jiao has over three decades of experience working as an anthropologist, archaeologist and museum specialist in China and the Pacific. For the last decade he has been based at the world-renowned Bishop Museum in Hawaii as Chairman of the Anthropology Department.

    "Hong Kong Maritime Museum believes the appointment of Dr. Jiao is a major milestone in the museum’s development, strengthening the organisation’s capacity to work in partnership with other maritime museums, located not just in China but the entire Pacific Rim. He also brings to the museum a wealth of experience that will enable HKMM to build on its current research and exhibition activities,” said Mr. Wesley.

    The museum is also delighted to announce the generous donation of HK$1,200,000 by Dr. Frank Tsao Wen-king of the IMC Group to support the appointment through the creation of a Curatorial Chair. These funds will be used to support future curatorial initiatives including research, object acquisition and education programs.

    In speaking about the challenges of his new appointment, Dr. Jiao stated “As a new, independent institution there are many opportunities to collaborate with maritime institutions, whether they be museums, research institutes or private companies in a whole range of subject areas including marine conservation, maritime archaeology, preservation of traditional maritime cultures and documentation of technological advances in the shipping industry. I look forward to working with my colleagues and members of the museum board to help chart a new phase in the museums development.”



    New President for Mariners' Museum


    The Mariners’ Museum at Newport News, Virginia, USA, has named Elliot Gruber as its new President and CEO.


    Elliot Gruber comes to The Mariners’ following two high-profile assignments on the national stage. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President of Resource Development for the United Way of the National Capital Area. Prior to that, he was vice president and COO for the Gettysburg Foundation.

    He was elected after a lengthy search following the resignation of Dr. William B. Cogar, who left the Museum in late 2011.

    During his time at the United Way, Elliot Gruber helped lead the organisation to substantial revenue increases achieved by widening its donor base. In eight years at The Gettysburg Foundation, he helped raise more than $100 million to build the new Museum and Visitor Center in Gettysburg. He has a 30-year not-for-profit organisation background.

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