The Dutch Consumer and Food Products Safety Authority (NVWA) intercepted 54 kilograms of glass eel in cooperation with customs and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee on Tuesday. More than 170,000 baby eels have been found in bags on their way to Malaysia. Two Malaysians have been arrested.
The bags contained plastic bags filled with salt water and small snakes. As it probably relates to European glass eels, NVWA was called upon.
Eel is in great demand in Asian markets. In Asia, it can bring in tens of thousands of euros, according to an NVWA spokesperson. “But there just aren’t enough eels to meet that demand,” says Lex Benden, a spokesperson for the NVWA. “Nobody knows how snakes reproduce and that’s why you can’t breed them and that leads to smuggling, including from Europe.”
Perhaps 170,000 fish were caught in European waters. “Catching that kind of amount is very detrimental to eel fishing,” Benden says. The European eel is a critically endangered species and is therefore protected. Thus, import and export are prohibited.”
Belgian customs also intercepted Asian eel smugglers at Zaventem airport in Brussels last Friday. Six Malaysians checked 18 identical bags, all wrapped in plastic paper. When searching one of the bags, customs found plastic bags filled with water and glass snakes.
The Malaysians tried to smuggle 200 kilograms of glass eel through Qatar to Malaysia. The estimated value is 400,000 euros.
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