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Depending on the sea

The Baltic Sea defines the life of the people of Bornholm. After the industrial fishery closed, new ways of using the sea have emerged - and some of the old ones have stubbornly survived.

By Jon Albjerg Ravnholt 

The fishing settlement in the Baltic Sea made it near impossible to be an industrial fisher and is an island trauma that no one who lived on the island in the late 80s was untouched by. But the sea is not to be overlooked, there are plenty of ways to use it.

One familiar with the sea is Magnus Heide Andreasen. In the summer of 2021, he opened Ivandet with his marine biologist colleague Miller Birk, where they do activities for children – and researchers.

– We invite children to discover as much as possible on their own. We have water binoculars, fishing nets, waders, wetsuits and snorkels and can support their research with our professionalism. But we also want to become wiser about it ourselves, so we aim to attract more researchers and students.

Two of them are already on the way: Environmental planners Clara Mühlhausen and Morten Ask Ledertoug have, since the autumn of 2019, together with Ivandet, investigated whether it is possible to grow mussels around Bornholm.

Eutrophication is one of the biggest environmental problems in the Baltic Sea: When there are too many nutrients in the water, more algae come in and negatively affect the ecosystem. Mussels filter the water and absorb the algae; when we harvest them, we take nutrients from the sea. They are also great food because we do not have to add anything new to the production, Clara Mühlhausen explains.

New blue foods

Mussels have not previously been taken seriously as a resource for Bornholm. Still, the two environmental planners have experienced tremendous goodwill among the people of Bornholm because the project points back to the fishing and the entrepreneurial spirit they experience among the people of Bornholm.

– We all like when someone gets new ideas and wants to try to think differently. The gastronomic scene has meant a lot to the willingness to look at producing fresh blue foods. With the new fishing quotas, there will be even fewer fish for Bornholm, but there is still the opportunity to fish, e.g. sprat. Traditionally, there has been a lot of focus on herring and cod, but if we can expand our horizons, there is still the possibility of Bornholm blue food.

Ole Hertz has already been working on this for several years. He is currently involved in a DTU project assessing the number of gigartinales in Danish waters. Seaweed can be used in animal feed, where due to its natural antibiotic content, it can replace penicillin in the piglets’ feed and perhaps reduce methane emissions in the cows. But people can also enjoy the salad of the sea, the anthropologist explains:

– Seaweed contains all the healthy substances you otherwise get from eating fish.

On Bornholm, bladder wrack and fucales is used in flour mixtures from Bornholms rolling mill and beer from Svaneke Bryghus, while the large amounts of seaweed that wash up on the beaches are to be used for compost in Plantagen. If you have the courage, you can also harvest seaweed yourself.

– It is easy to harvest bladder wrack and fucales on Bornholm. If you dry it in an oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees, it becomes light green and can be eaten as a snack or blended and used in flour or as a spice.

At sea

While industrial fishing is over in the Baltic Sea, angling continues. If you are nice and can get someone to tell you where to go fishing, there are good chances of catching something. Bjarke Borup has experienced this himself:

– When I started fishing for trout, I fished for two years without catching anything. But one day, I met a person from Bornholm who said I should go out right there between the two rocks, then there would be fish. That’s where I caught my first trout! It’s the kind of guide I want to be for others.

In the company Bornholm Fishing Guide, he guides visiting anglers to the excellent fishing spots at the water’s edge. He does this all year round, while Per Sjøstrøm from Verona Sportfiskeri, takes children and families out on the boat to catch their first fish during summer.

Several boats sail along the rocky coast if you want to visit the sea without fishing. Since 2018, Baltic Yacht, with Torben Koefoed, has pampered guests with tapas of Bornholm specialities and stories about the island he grew up on.

If you want something more traditional, the former school teacher Leif Rubæk has sailed with Hammerhavnens Bådfart for 33 years, which sails out to Den Våde Ovn and past Hammershus and on to Vang. On the other side of the island, M/S Thor has been sailing between Gudhjem and Helligdomsklipperne since 1913.

– If you sail to Helligdomsklipperne, you can walk back to Gudhjem and gather a real appetite before going to one of the good restaurants in the city, Søren Danig explains.

The taste of classic Bornholm

Although herring is no longer caught in the Baltic Sea, the smokehouses still ad to the Bornholm tradition of smoked fish. In all the smokehouses and Ruths Kryddersild on Christiansø, they serve herring according to secret family recipes passed down from generation to generation. Even though a lot is changing these years on the Bornholm food scene, you might need something the way it used to be to preserve some of the classic Bornholm.

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