First barrel of Dutch herring season fetches 58,000 euro

The Dutch herring season opened Tuesday with the traditional auction of the first barrel, containing 45 herring, sold for a whopping 58,000 euros (69,000 dollars), the Fish Marketing Board announced.

The proceeds of the sale of the first five kilogramme (11 pound) keg in Scheveningen, the port of The Hague, traditionally goes to charity.

"The first auction is very symbolic," board spokeswoman Lisette Wassenaar told AFP. "The first keg was sold for 58,000 euros," she said.

Last year it fetched 66,000 euro with a record set in 2006 of 75,000 euros.

"The keg was purchased by a wholesaler," said Wassenaar, adding it would be delivered to a fish restaurant in The Hague.

Herring is prepared according to a special Dutch method: the fish is covered in salt to mature for four days, and then is frozen to stop it rotting.

"The herring has been tasted by experts and a chef. It is very good but a little less fatty than last year," said Wassenaar.

Fished in the waters off Soctland and Scandanavia, herring is generally eaten uncooked, with chopped onions and little bit of white bread.

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