Relais & Châteaux chefs pledge to stop serving eel with immediate effect to prevent its extinction

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Working in concert with Ethic Ocean, the Association’s World Culinary Council will lobby European ministers to protect biodiversity

PARIS, Dec. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The members of Relais & Châteaux’s World Culinary Council has 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, after its NGO partner Ethic Ocean launched an alert that public authorities must urgently listen to scientists who recommend suspending European eel fishing.

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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 List of 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.

In this context, 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. 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 effort follows a similar approach taken by the Association, in 2009, to save the bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) stocks in the North-East Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, which were close to collapsing. This action contributed to public mobilization around this species, which encouraged legislators to enact management measures adapted to the situation of the state of the stock.

A Variety of Issues

The situation with eels is very alarming because this species suffers from a 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.

While it is urgent to suspend eel fishing today, it is crucial that the public authorities take the necessary measures to fight against the other causes of the decline of this species.

Mauro Colagreco, Vice President, Chefs of Relais & Châteaux and therefore leader of the World Culinary Council, and chef-owner of the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Mirazur in the South of France, said, “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.”

Gastronomy: Dependent on Nature

The World Culinary Council–an international committee of 21 chefs from across the Relais & Châteaux network–had gathered over October 8-10, 2023, under the Association’s president, Laurent Gardinier.

Laurent Gardinier said: “We have an acute understanding that Relais & Châteaux, and our very art de vivre, is dependent on nature. We must lead in sustainability to protect the ecosystems and biodiversity that our culinary and travel experiences rely on. It is these experiences that move our guests emotionally. And this would not be possible without nature.”

A Vehicle for Change

The World Culinary Council wishes to draw attention to the plight of eels.

Relais & Châteaux has had a partnership with Ethic Ocean since 2009 and regularly unites its members around actions in favor of the environment, especially marine biodiversity (for example, World Oceans Day). 

Gilles Boeuf, president of Ethic Ocean, said, “I am happy to see the Relais & Châteaux association support this alert, which aims, above all, to preserve an exceptional species that reflects humanity’s relationship with the environment. This cause to save the eel touches on many biodiversity issues. Let’s act before it’s too late.”

To learn more about sustainability at Relais & Châteaux, the Association’s annual report with 15 objectives for 2025 and 2030 can be found here:   

About Relais & Châteaux


Relais & Châteaux, established in 1954, is an association of 580 unique hotels and restaurants throughout the world, owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs – most often families – who are passionate about their craft and deeply committed to forging warm, lasting relationships with their guests. Relais & Châteaux members protect and promote the wealth and diversity of the world’s culinary and hospitality traditions, to ensure they continue to thrive. They are equally dedicated to preserving local heritage and the environment, as articulated in the association’s Vision presented to UNESCO in November 2014. 

About Ethic Ocean 

Ethic Ocean is a non-governmental environmental organization dedicated to the conservation of fisheries and marine ecosystems. Its mission is to create opportunities for change and help implement sustainable practices in the fisheries industry. Ethic Ocean works with all stakeholders to help them source species having stocks that are not overfished or which have been farmed responsibly.

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1.  Mauro Colagreco
Vice President, Chefs, Relais & Châteaux
Relais & Châteaux Mirazur, FRANCE

2.  Peter Tempelhoff
Chef Delegate, Africa & Indian Ocean,
Relais & Châteaux Ellerman House, SOUTH AFRICA

3.  Josep Espuga 
Chef Delegate, Australia, New Zealand & Pacific,
Relais & Châteaux Laura at Pt. Leo Estate, AUSTRALIA

4.  Jef Schuur
Chef Delegate, Benelux, Eastern Europe & Scandinavia,
Relais & Châteaux Bij Jef, THE NETHERLANDS

5.  Frédéric Doucet
Chef Delegate, France: Great East & Rhône-Alps,
Relais & Châteaux Maison Doucet, FRANCE

6.  Cédric Béchade
Chef Delegate, France: Great Southern West,
Relais & Châteaux L’Auberge Basque, FRANCE

7.  Mathieu Guibert
Chef Delegate, France: Great West,
Relais & Châteaux Anne de Bretagne, FRANCE

8.  Julien Dumas
Chef Delegate, France: Paris & Champagne,
Relais & Châteaux Saint James Paris, FRANCE

9.  Jacques Pourcel
Chef Delegate, France: Provence, French Riviera, Corsica & Languedoc,
Relais & Châteaux Hôtel Richer de Belleval, FRANCE

10.  Holger Bodendorf
Chef Delegate, Germany & Austria,
Relais & Châteaux Landhaus Stricker, GERMANY

11.  Vicky Lau
Chef Delegate, Greater China, Indian Subcontinent & Southeast Asia,
Relais & Châteaux Tate Dining Room, HONG KONG

12.  Emanuele Scarello
Chef Delegate, Italy,
Relais & Châteaux Agli Amici dal 1887, ITALY

13.  Shinichiro Takagi
Chef Delegate, Japan & Korea,
Relais & Châteaux Zeniya, JAPAN

14.  Marko Gajski
Chef Delegate, Mediterranean, Middle East & Morocco,
Relais & Châteaux Lešić Dimitri, CROATIA

15.  Jason Bangerter
Chef Delegate, North America: Canada,
Relais & Châteaux Langdon Hall, CANADA

16.  Gabriel Kreuther
Chef Delegate, North America: USA East & Caribbean,
Relais & Châteaux Gabriel Kreuther, NEW YORK, USA

17.  Kyle Connaughton
Chef Delegate, North America: USA West & Mexico,
Relais & Châteaux SingleThread Farm-Restaurant-Inn, CALIFORNIA, USA

18.  Norman Brandt
Chef Delegate, South America & Central America,
Relais & Châteaux Pikaia Lodge, GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS

19.  Pedro Subijana
Chef Delegate, Spain & Portugal,
Relais & Châteaux Akelarre, SPAIN

20.  Stéphane Décotterd
Chef Delegate, Switzerland & Liechtenstein,
Relais & Châteaux Restaurant Stéphane Décotterd, SWITZERLAND

21.  Michael Caines
Chef Delegate, United Kingdom & Ireland,
Relais & Châteaux Lympstone Manor, UNITED KINGDOM

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SOURCE Relais et Chateaux

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