According to the Dutch Kitesurf Association (NKV), the number of practitioners has tripled in ten years from 5,000 to 15,000 (2017 figures). Zeeland has a number of hotspots where not only Dutch kiters surf, but also Germans, French and especially Belgians. The growing affluence worries environmentalists and ornithologists. They note that migratory birds are hunted, in particular by kitesurfers who go outside the indicated limits and thus startle the birds.
The Oesterdam near Tholen is one of the most visited places in Zeeland. Crowds sometimes more or less force surfers to use more space than is allowed. Last fall it was very crowded as the place is also increasingly well known among our neighbors to the south and dozens of kitesurfers came from Belgium to Oesterdam.
Everyone uses nature here
Mark Gorter from NKV has a kitesurfing school on the Oesterdam. He is aware of the complaints of bird lovers and nature associations, but does not share their opinion: “It is not entirely clear to me that birds allow themselves to be chased by kites. And look at who besides us is using nature here. Piercings, cockle pickers and even Woensdrecht Air Base use space. Although the airspace, but still. “
According to forester Paul Begijn from Natuurmonumenten, there should be more consultation with the kite community. It shows a sign on Krabbendijke beach which clearly states that kitesurfing is prohibited. “And yet, sometimes the wind is favorable for this part and the kitesurfers still get in the water. A little further, there is a wintering area for curlews, sandpipers and oystercatchers. These birds are disturbed.
Look at what is possible and what is not possible
Begijn indicates that the application is minimal and that the kiters themselves should therefore be called upon. The forester believes that the needs of surfers and the possibilities within the Eastern Scheldt National Park, a Natura 2000 area, should be considered together. He also points to the Delta’s water management plan, which expires in 2022: “Then we can assess and adjust the things that are not going well.”
Mark Gorter also points out that the NKV is committed to engaging in consultations with governments and stakeholders. “But don’t forget that Zeeland is a province where water sports are of paramount importance. So it must remain attractive for kitesurfers to come here. As said, the sport is growing, and there are so many kilometers. coastlines on the Eastern Scheldt. Give us more space! “