Fisherman Julien Vermote. The Flemish fishing industry has been in troubled waters for many years. For some fishermen, increasingly severe European laws on fishing quotas and allocated fishing grounds, dwindling fish stocks and tougher competition have sounded the death knell for the industry. In 1950, the Belgian fishing fleet consisted of 457 boats; by 1980, it was just 208. Nowadays, there are 115 boats, spread over three fishing ports: Nieuwpoort, Ostend and Zeebrugge.