The members of Relais & Châteaux’s World Culinary Council have voted to immediately remove eel from their own menus and are sending a call to action to the rest of the group’s 580 hotels and restaurants to do the same.
The move comes after its NGO partner, Ethic Ocean, launched an alert that public authorities must urgently listen to scientists who recommend suspending European eel fishing.
The European eel (Anguilla anguilla), which is featured in menus all over the world–and revered in certain French, Spanish, Belgian, Dutch and Japanese culinary cultures–is considered critically endangered and features on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red Listof Threatened Species.
Over the last 20 years, European scientists from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) have been warning about all the causes of the alarming decline of this species–but for the last three years, they have recommended suspending fishing.
A fishy dilemma
The 21 Relais & Châteaux chefs elected to the Association’s World Culinary Council gathered in October and voted to approve an immediate ban of European eel from its menus.
“Chefs have a critical role to play: we can stop the demand. We have a chance to protect eels from becoming extinct, and of preserving biodiversity to allow future generations to continue to enjoy them, but only if we act now. As the world’s largest network of chefs, Relais & Châteaux hopes to save this species.” —Mauro Colagreco, vice-president, Chefs of Relais & Châteaux
In partnership with Ethic Ocean, Relais & Châteaux calls on the 27 European Union ministers to hear this chef mobilization and scientific recommendation in order to take the necessary measures this December to safeguard this species.
The European eel species suffers from numerous challenges including water pollution (particularly rivers), habitat destruction, dams that impede their biological cycle and illegal fishing, which has created a black market, fetching up to €5,000 per kilo.
Eels are the only fish that are targeted at their juvenile stage, on top of the fact that it takes them a long time to reach reproductive maturity.