Gibbing is the process of preparing salt herring (or soused herring), in which the gills and part of the gullet are removed from the fish, eliminating any bitter taste. The liver and pancreas are left in the fish during the salt-curing process because they release enzymes essential for flavor. The fish is then cured in a barrel with one part salt to 20 herring. Today many variations and local preferences exist in this process.
The process of gibbing was invented by Willem Beukelszoon (a.k.a. Willem Beuckelsz, William Buckels or William Buckelsson), a 14th-century Zealand fisherman. The invention of this fish preservation technique led to the Dutch becoming a seafaring power.
Buckels' invention of gibbing created an export industry for salt herring that was monopolized by the Dutch. They began to build ships and eventually moved from trading in herring to colonizing and the Dutch Empire.
Herring is still very important to the Dutch who celebrate Vlaggetjesdag(Flag Day) each spring, as a tradition that dates back to the 14th century when fishermen went out to sea in their small boats to capture the annual catch, and to preserve and export their catch abroad.