Relais & Châteaux drops eel; CIBBRiNA aims to minimize European bycatch

Relais & Châteaux is asking the association’s chefs to stop using eel, as part of a larger drive to ban all red-listed species from its menus.
Relais & Châteaux is asking the association’s chefs to stop using eel, as part of a larger drive to ban all red-listed species from its menus | Photo courtesy of sylv1rob1/Shutterstock
6 Min

- A project funded by the European Union will soon begin work on an effort to minimize bycatch of endangered, threatened, and protected (ETP) marine species.

The Coordinated Development and Implementation of Best Practice in Bycatch Reduction in the North-East Atlantic, Baltic, and Mediterranean Regions (CIBBRiNA) Project will use eight case studies to come up with solutions to minimize ETP bycatch. The case studies encompass a variety of fishing operations from small- to large-scale fisheries using gillnets, surface and deep-water longlines, pelagic trawls, and bottom trawls.

"The fishing industry has already been active in finding ways to reduce bycatch of ETP species, testing different gear improvements and learning from one another. CIBBRiNA provides us with the opportunity to cooperate on bycatch mitigation in a fair manner with other stakeholders, in a relationship built on trust,” Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA) Chief Science Officer Niels Hintzen said in a press release.

CIBBRiNA launched in September 2023 with a budget of EUR 8.3 million (USD 8.9 million) and will run through August 2029. It is coordinated by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality (LNV) and involves 45 partners from 13 nations.

It will seek methods to engage with European fishers to build on know-how from existing successful approaches; refine and test the most promising measures; and improve understanding of the socioeconomics behind bycatch mitigation. The end goal is to establish mitigation, monitoring, and assessment programs in a selection of fisheries with a risk of bycatch of marine mammals, seabirds, turtles, sharks, skates, and rays. Bycatch of non-target commercial fish species is not in the project’s scope.

“Ultimately, CIBBRiNA will deliver a toolbox of context-specific solutions that are practical on the water, achieve policy goals for European fisheries management, and guide international best practice,” CIBBRiNA said.

 - Nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy FishWise is partnering with Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) to advance the implementation of digitized, interoperable traceability systems across the private and public sector.

By strengthening seafood industry traceability commitments, encouraging private-sector investment in data systems, and engaging regulators and policymakers to support stronger data practices, GDST and FishWise said they believe their partnership will help achieve fully traceable global seafood supply chains.

“Standardizing data formats in both the public and private sector and making electronic information sharing more seamless between traceability systems is crucial not only for meeting companies’ responsible seafood programs but also regulatory compliance and better governance,” FishWise Programs Director Sara Lewis said in a press release. “Therefore, the collaboration will also explore the connections between GDST adoption and regulatory compliance, in pursuit of greater uptake of the standards through government engagement.”

 - Relais & Châteaux is asking its chefs to stop using eel as part of a larger drive to ban all red-listed species from its menus.

The association of independently owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants, which has around 580 members in 64 countries, announced on 8 June World Oceans Day it will remove all overexploited species of seafood from its menus, starting with eel, and will prioritize sustainable species.       

"As an association, we can have a major influence on global culinary culture. It is urgent and vital to serve guests species which are not overfished or which have been responsibly farmed with respect to the environment, the animals and the people involved,” Relais & Châteaux Vice President of Chefs Mauro Colagreco said in a press release.

Relais & Châteaux joined environmental NGO Ethic Ocean in 2023 to help contribute to the conservation of fisheries and marine ecosystems and implement sustainable practices in the fisheries industry.

"Many people think farmed eel is different from wild eel, when, in fact, wild juvenile eels are caught and then taken to be grown on farms,” Vicky Lau, head chef at Hong Kong’s Tate Dining Room, a Relais & Châteaux member, said. “With the critical status of eels all over the world, this form of aquaculture can't be considered sustainable."

 - The Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre will no longer administer the Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) program, a network dedicated to supporting the professional development of women in Scotland’s aquaculture sector. 

The center recently secured funding to research finfish health and well-being, forcing the organization to step back from housing SAIC. At a session held during the Aquaculture UK trade show, SAIC said it has begun the process of finding a new administer, with the aim of passing off the program in September.

“The network has proven to be a vital step in helping the sector to grow. We are now calling on organizations who share our vision to step forward and help us ensure WiSA’s initiatives continue to thrive,” SAIC Chief Executive Heather Jones said in a press release.

WiSA was formed on International Women’s Day in 2019 and now has nearly 400 members, including representatives from finfish, shellfish, and seaweed, operating in industry, government, academia, and non-governmental organizations. It offers mentoring programs, events, training, and online knowledge-sharing and is the presenter of the annual WiSA Awards.

 - Fisheries Innovation & Sustainability is searching for a new chairperson following the resignation of John Goodlad.

The coalition, which is governed and funded by M&S, Sainsbury’s, Young’s Seafood, Seafish and the Fishmongers’ Company, advocates for greater sustainability across the U.K.’s seafood industry. The group is calling for applications from industry experts and experienced advocates for innovation and precompetitive collaboration in the seafood industry, with the goal of hiring for the position by December 2024.

Goodlad has chaired the organization since its inception in 2014.

“With John at the helm, FIS has leveraged more than GBP 3 million [USD 3.8 million, EUR 3.5 million] in investment into innovation for sustainable U.K. seafood. The issues facing our industry today point to an even greater need for innovative thinking,” FIS Executive Director Kara Brydson said. “We look forward to welcoming a new chair to champion innovation projects which will make the greatest positive change for the U.K. seafood industry and the people driving it.”

- The International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF) debuted the film “A Truly Plastic Neutral Fishery” at the Pacific Whale Foundation’s 8th Annual World Whale Film Festival in Hawai’i. The film investigates environmental concerns surrounding ocean plastic pollution and the large quantities of abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear from industrial fisheries.

The six-minute movie features the Azores pole-and-line fishery’s commitment to responsibility by becoming the world’s first plastic-neutral fishery.

“Marine plastic debris litter coastlines, entangles endangered and protected species, and has toxic, cumulative effects throughout the food chain. In doing so, it spreads diseases, contributes to invading alien species into different ecosystems, and regularly enters the waters of those who did not cause the pollution – such as the Azores,” the organization said in a press release. “As in many instances, the communities that carry the burden of the impacts are rarely responsible for creating the issue.”

The plastic-neutral designation was developed by the International Pole and Line Foundation (IPNLF) in association with the Azores Ocean Observatory, POPA, Associação de Produtores de Atum e Similares dos Açores, Federação das Pescas dos Açores, and the Institute of Marine Research. To become plastic-neutral, a fishery must remove as much or more fishing gear than it discards, loses, or abandons in the marine environment annually. In April, IPNLF declared the Azorean fleet to be plastic-neutral, having removed more plastic fishing gear from the ocean by weight than it lost in the past year.

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