The award of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) provided by EU law in 2011, to ‘Lough Neagh Eel’ is regarded by the local industry as a significant accolade recognising the heritage, tradition and authenticity of what are regarded as the best quality eel available in Europe.
It distinguishes Lough Neagh Eel as an unique food item alongside the food elite of Europe, such as Parma Ham, Champagne and Feta Cheese. Other Northern Irish produce to have been awarded PGI are Comber Early potatoes and Armagh Bramley Apples.
Lough Neagh Eel is renowned for its texture and flavour, a direct result of the eels natural diet that includes invertebrates, which are indigenous to the lough. The larval stage of this fly are a high value food source that contributes to the unique fat content of Lough Neagh Eel. For over 50 years we have been marketing Lough Neagh Eels in Europe and have a strong reputation for quality and reliability of supply. The main markets are England, Holland and Germany.
We are keenly aware of the importance to modern consumers of the credentials and traceability of their food purchases. The PGI status is a valuable asset in the promotion of our indigenous Lough Neagh Eel. Equally, our fishermen can be proud that the work traditions, from which they and their forefathers have earned their livelihood, has been so highly acknowledged.
Another indigenous species, Lough Neagh Pollan, currently has an application pending for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). The application has progressed through 2 of the 3 phases and is in the final stages of assessment with the EU commission.
Although pollan are found in 5 Irish loughs, they are only commercially available from Lough Neagh. Lough Neagh Pollan are a genetically unique variant of Irish Pollan. DNA analysis indicates that they colonised Lough Neagh about 200,000 years ago.
Prior to 1900, the harvesting of pollan dominated fishing activities on the lough. It is still considered an economically important species and depending on the time of year, Lough Neagh Pollan makes up a significant proportion of catches.