Relais & Châteaux’s World Culinary Council members have vowed to stop serving eel with immediate effect to prevent its extinction.

The decision was taken by the council after its non-governmental organisation partner Ethic Ocean raised concerns that public authorities must consider the recommendations made by the scientists to suspend European eel fishing.

Ethic Ocean president Gilles Boeuf 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.”

The members of the council voted in favour of the removal of eels from their menus and have urged the rest of the group’s 580 hotels and restaurants to do the same.

The European eel is currently featured in restaurant menus across the globe and is revered in certain French, Spanish, Belgian, Dutch and Japanese culinary cultures.

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By GlobalData

But European eel has now been included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species.

Over the last two decades, scientists from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea have been warning about the causes of the alarming decline of this species. In the last three years, they have recommended suspending fishing.

In October 2023, the 21 chefs from Relais & Châteaux who were elected to the World Culinary Council of the Association decided to immediately remove European eel from their menus.

The World Culinary Council is an international committee of 21 chefs from across the Relais & Châteaux network.

Relais & Châteaux Chefs vice-president Mauro Colagreco 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.”

Relais & Châteaux and Ethic Ocean are urging 27 European Union ministers to hear the recommendation to take the necessary measures to safeguard this species from December 2023.