Woman fights to join men-only river fishing co-op

A woman from the Brabant town of Woudrichem is going to court in an effort to force her local men-only fishing cooperative to admit her as a member.

Only members of the De Hoop Visserijvereniging are allowed to fish for eel and other fish in the rivers around the fortress town using nets. Former chairman Johan Combee told local broadcaster Omroep Brabant the club had nothing against women.

‘But our statutes have said this for more than 100 years and we want to keep it that way because of the history,’ he said. ‘A new member has to be a man and to have lived in Woudrichem for one year and six weeks.’

Fishing rights

The men-only rule was enacted in 1910 when the club began to manage the fishing rights, first granted in 1362. ‘It is unique and that is the way it should stay,’ Combee said.

Nanka de Meer has lived in the town for the alloted time and has made a formal complaint to the police. She is also starting a civil court procedure.

‘I never asked for publicity. I only want to fish,’ De Meer told the broadcaster after declining to be filmed.

However, others in the town are muttering about the ‘import’ who is stirring things up, the broadcaster said. The last time a woman tried to join the club was 13 years ago, but that attempt ended after a ‘good chat’.

Watch the broadcast

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation