Dutch wants to impose temporary eel fishing ban

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The measure, if approved by European Commission, would forbid fishermen from fishing eels for several months a year to allow the population to recover.

The Hague – The Dutch government said Thursday it would ban the fishing of eels, a delicacy in the Netherlands, for several months a year in a bid to protect the fish from extinction.

The new measure would kick in this year with a two-month ban from 1 October, followed from 2010 with a yearly three-month prohibition from September.

The approach would be reviewed in 2012 to measure its effectiveness.

"I realise this is a very big sacrifice for eel fishers, but ultimately it is also in the interests of the industry that eel numbers are allowed to recover," Agriculture and Environment Minister Gerda Verburg said in a statement.

The measure, yet to receive European Commission approval, follows Brussels' rejection of an earlier Dutch plan to rope in eel fishermen to help boost numbers by releasing 157 tons of mature, caught eel closer to their spawning waters in the Atlantic to spare them an arduous journey.

The eels travel to the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic to spawn every year and their offspring travel to Europe to feed in inland waters. One thousand tons of eel are caught in the Netherlands every year.

"The (initial) plan would have offered guarantees for the recovery of the eel population," the professional fishers' federation Combinatie van Beroepsvissers said in a statement, describing the new measure as "incomprehensible, unreasonable and unacceptable."

The government has made available EUR 700,000 to help an estimated 240 small fishing businesses affected by the ban.

"This amounts to a mere EUR 1,000 per business per month," federation spokesman Han Walder told AFP.

In June 2007, the eel was placed under the protection of the CITES convention on species threatened by extinction and was classified as a fish in which trade should be strictly regulated.

AFP / Expatica

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