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Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative Society was established in 1965 and markets in excess of 400 tonnes of Lough Neagh eels annually of which approximately 80% are shipped to Holland where they are sold mainly as smoked eel while the remainder goes to Billingsgate in London for sale as fresh eel or are processed for the jellied eel trade.
The eel fishing industry on Lough Neagh has a rich heritage and is steeped in tradition. A significant proportion of the fishermen are based in the East Tyrone area. Fishing methods have remained largely unchanged for more than a century while fishing techniques and knowledge of the lough have been passed down through successive generations of fishing families.
Lough Neagh is home to the largest wild eel fishery in Europe and the eels produced are regarded by processors as the best available on the continent - a reflection of the high quality natural feeding available to the fish in the lough.
In 2011 ‘Lough Neagh Eel’ was granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, the first food product from Northern Ireland to be awarded the status. PGI status recognises the unique quality of ‘Lough Neagh Eel’ and its connection with the local area and community associated with its production.
The Society’s premises are situated on the northern shore of Lough Neagh on the banks of the Lower Bann River at Toomebridge where fresh whole eel and smoked eel fillets can be purchased during the season.