The initiative to draw up a Dutch Technical Agreement (NTA) for the responsible cleaning of fishing waters according to the raking method has won the company Harkboot in Roden a NENnovation Award. The jury praised the innovative method and endorsed its social relevance.
For years, Harkboot has been pioneering a self-developed method for cleaning up waterways overgrown with unwanted aquatic plants. By pulling up encroaching vegetation root by root from the bottom, overgrowth is effectively combated. 'It is a violent method,' stresses Leon Sterk, the inventor and founder of Harkboot. 'That is why we have been very conscious of our impact on flora and fauna right from the start. Partly through early collaboration with ecologists and angling federations, we have been able to perfect the raking method into a responsible, fish-friendly method of cleaning up.'
Quality and safety
According to the jury verdict of the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN), the careful management of dense watercourses speaks of great social relevance. For example, controlling unwanted rooting water plants has the least possible environmental impact. The decisive factor in awarding the NENnovation Award was Harkboot's initiative to develop an NTA for the raking method. Because: if market parties make voluntary agreements about the quality and safety of their products, services and processes, these standards will contribute to the successful development and scaling up of innovative concepts.
'That's exactly why we set to work developing a Technical Agreement,' says Sterk. 'Overgrowing aquatic plants are a recurring problem, whether they are invasive exotics or native species that grow excessively. Traditional mowing promotes growth and is therefore necessary much more often, which is expensive ánd risky for the ecological balance. With the raking method, cleanup is necessary at most once every few years, because you remove plants with roots. This is quite radical, so the raking method really has to be applied with care. To guarantee quality and safety, we took the initiative to lay down these standards in an NTA, specifically for all unwanted rooting aquatic plants.'
Setting the bar high
The NTA for the raking methodology was developed in collaboration with ecologists, water boards, sport fisheries and other stakeholders. It is expected that contracting authorities will use this standard from now on. Sterk: "We set our own bar high and demonstrate with this NTA that we work responsibly. The fact that this also allows you to take a look behind the scenes and that competitors can benefit from this, benefits both the sector and the environment. We do this because we want to prevent environmental damage and value a sustainable method. From the production of the raking boats to the quality of execution and aftercare: the entire process is guaranteed in the NTA for the raking method.'
The next step is European standardization. 'Unwanted rooting water plants are also a problem in other countries, which is why we are seeking international support for this Technical Agreement,' says Sterk. 'Moreover, if EU standardization is eventually achieved, further distinction can be made through certification. We are the first company in the green sector to take a step towards standardization. We are proud of that and hope to inspire colleagues in the sector with it. For us, nomination for the NENnovation Award was therefore already a very nice boost. Winning the Award gives us confirmation that as a green business we are a frontrunner.'
Fishing and boating
Investment manager Chantal Leijendekker is also proud of Harkboot. 'Since I became involved in this company from NOM, I have come to know Leon and his team as very driven. The development of a Dutch standard for working with the rake method is a nice step towards further upscaling. Winning the NENnovation Award is confirmation of the innovative nature of Harkboot and the relevance of what they do. By tackling rampant 'green soup' in an environmentally friendly way, Harkboot improves the long-term flow of waterways. So that the cleaned up ditches are again suitable for fishing, boating or even swimming.'
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