The long standing Dutch maritime tradition is best evidenced by a visit to one of the Maritime Museums in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. They tell the story of maritime history of the Netherlands but also show the present and future. The collections of these museums rank in the top three of the world!
No wonder for a country that is surrounded by water. The continuous struggle to keep the Dutch feet dry has triggered and stimulated many maritime and related projects and industries. In fact, if one looks at the Dutch map one sees one big port. From Eemshaven in the north to Amsterdam and Rotterdam at west coast and Flushing and Terneuzen in the south, all situated at a coast line of just over 500 kilometers. With these ports an enormous port industry developed for the storage and transit of goods which cross fertilized Dutch foreign trade.
The struggle against the sea gave the Dutch a worldwide lead in dredging, land reclaim, large protective constructions like the Delta Works and water treatment and management. At the same time the Dutch know how to operate and enjoy their waters: they also have a leading position in building complicated ships and super yachts.
These water bound activities bring in their wake highly trained and experienced professionals like lawyers, accountants, tax advisors, bankers and consultants who provide their services to the Dutch maritime industry. Ever since Hugo de Groot wrote his famous “Mare Liberum” (published in 1609) on the principles of free international trade a long line of academics have developed important theses and innovations for the maritime industry, always keeping an open eye for daily practice and experience.
This also applies for Dutch maritime law. Famous past and present professors at the Universities of Leiden and Rotterdam like Cleveringa, Schadee, Schultz, Cleton, Japikse, Claringbould, Haak, van der Ziel, and Smeele have educated and still teach generations of Dutch and foreign students all aspects of national and international maritime and transport law. These students pursued and still pursue a career as maritime lawyer, judge, arbitrator, company lawyer etc., together forming an essential and integral frame of the ship that is known as the Dutch Maritime Nation