The Netherlands now join Norway in the effort to save the European eel Anguilla anguilla from extinction.

Yesterday, the Dutch government announced a two-month long ban on eel fishing that will commence on October 1 this year, followed from 2010 with a yearly three-month prohibition from September. In 2012, the new regulation will be reviewed and its effectiveness assessed.

eel Dutch government bans eel fishing three months a year

“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.

Before the regulation can be put into action it will however require the approval of the European Commission. The commission has already rejected a Dutch proposal to enlist the aid of eel fishermen to help boost the eel population by releasing 157 tons of mature, caught eel close to the species spawning waters in the Sargasso Sea.

“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”.

Eel is a delicacy in the Netherlands and roughly one thousand tons of eel are caught in Dutch waters every year. The Dutch government have designated 700,000 Euros (989,800 USD) to aid the estimated 240 small fishing businesses affected by the eel ban.