TV chefs remove eel from the menu following outcry


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Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver got into hot water this weekend after it was revealed they had both been serving endangered eel in their restaurants.

The revelations, which appeared in the Sunday Times, come after both chefs have appeared in programmes highlighting the declining stocks of marine fish in the Channel 4 season ‘Big Fish Fight’.

Ramsay had eel on the menu at his London restaurant Maze as well as at the 'La Veranda' restaurant in France where he is a consultant, while Oliver served up eel at his London Restaurant Fifteen.

The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to a number of causes such as overfishing, an introduced nematode parasite, dams, pollution and loss of wetlands. Eel recruitment is currently showing a 95-99% decline on pre-1980 levels.

Both restaurants removed eel from their menus after they were contacted by the paper.

A spokesman for Oliver said that "eel has occasionally been on the menu at Fifteen London but will now come off the menu until we have done further research into the state of eel stocks."

Ramsay’s spokeswoman said, "We will be reviewing our position and removing it from the menu for now."

The Dutch Eel Company which supplied both restaurants says on its website: "We are closely watching and reviewing the situation surrounding eels. The eel is definitely not endangering (sic), yes they were in decline, luckily eel fishers/traders made the government in Holland and Brussels aware of this (2009)..."

"At the moment, because eel is our livelihood and we are so weaved into the situation we were prepared; we do hold quite a stock and because of that we can supply you with the quality you are so used to. There are also good quality farmed eels and we can always use outside farmed eels (agriculture). The reason eel is not on the MSC list is very simple: nobody ever kept an accurate record and counted the catch. This is now changed by law, but it will take about five years before MSC will accept the list. That is just unfortunate; again there is no eel trade ban and definitely no eel stop."