Salt water, fresh water - Jaap Smit at the helm

In 2018 the Haringvliet sea locks will be set ajar whenever the water of the Haringvliet is below sea level. That is important for internationally migrating fish like salmon and sea trout, allowing them to swim inland to their upstream spawning areas. Opening the sea locks allows salt water to penetrate into the western section of the Haringvliet, turning the fresh water brackish. There is still a guaranteed inflow of fresh water into Haringvliet east of the line between Middelharnis and the Spui.

The sea locks were built as part of the 'Delta works' sea barrier system to protect areas at risk in the wake of the 1953 North Sea flood disaster. The Kierbesluit (government decree regulating the opening of the Haringvliet sea locks) was a point of discussion on the fifth and last day of Jaap Smit's yachting trip through Zuid-Holland, is also intended to protect the ecology of the area and its economy.

That last lap of the trip took Jaap over the Haringvliet from Numansdorp to Middelharnis, calling in at Hellevoetsluis on the way. Guests on board for the day were Ada Grootenboer (mayor of Goeree-Overflakkee), Milène Junius (mayor of Hellevoetsluis), Steef Visser (chair of FOGO, the Goeree-Overflakkee federation of business associations), Ton Plooy (owner/director of TBP Electronics) and Thijs Broer (Vrij Nederland journalist and author of Langs de Kust, his story of a sailing trip from Zeeuws-Vlaanderen to Delfzijl).

One island, one municipality

As well as the Kierbesluit, the talk on board turned to the administrative energy displayed on Goeree-Overflakkee after the island became one sole municipality in 2013. Businesses, the municipality itself and middle-of-the-road social organisations are forming a united front to develop the island and address the challenges at issue. The way they are working on Goeree could serve as an example for other regions.

A choir performing sea shanties welcomed the Commissioner and his guests on their arrival at Middelharnis. The week ended with a quayside dinner, where alderman Arend Jan van der Vlugt and Regional Minister Han Weber joined the party. “It has been an exceptionally interesting, useful and pleasant trip. From the Kaag to Middelharnis, Zuid-Holland is such a wonderful province for water-based sport and recreation. And this week I have been pleasantly surprised to encounter so many initiatives to raise water-based leisure activities in Zuid-Holland to a higher level”, commented Jaap Smit.