The Netherlands agreed to prohibit eel fishing for the month of October as part of a European Union effort to ensure the fish’s survival. According to the agriculture minister European eels fished from the Ijsselmeer inland sea as well as local lakes, rivers and canals are a delicacy in the Netherlands and are exported to countries in Asia and to Germany. But overfishing is drastically depleting their numbers.
Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg informed that the ban, which is part of a EU-wide conservation project and must be approved by the European Commission, is designed to protect the eel as its population is doing so badly that shutting the fishery for a time is unavoidable. She also told that last year, the government proposed closing down eel fishing in September and October, but had to revised the plan after protests from fishers.
It is said that there are about 200 professional eel fishers in the Netherlands, and October is their busiest month. Eel fishermen have also agreed to release 50 tons of mature eels below locks and weirs so they can return to the Sargasso Sea, a 2-million-square-mile warm-water body in the North Atlantic between the West Indies and the Azores, to spawn. The threat to the survival of the eel on the Atlantic coastline forced EU member states to come up with national plans to make sure that some 40 percent of eels would be able to escape inland waters to go spawn.