Wed, 09 Mar 2005
From: AFP

Tiny eels become more expensive than caviar

Julie Fraysse, Agence France-Presse/Bordeaux

Baby eels, transparent, and not much bigger than matchsticks, have become more expensive than caviar in France, where they are slowly disappearing from the menus of gourmet restaurants because of huge demand in Asia.

"The prices have risen so much this year that I'm not offering them to my customers any more," said Ramuntxo Corde, a restaurateur in Ciboure, a French village on the Atlantic close to Spain.

This year, the delicacy known in most English-speaking countries as glass eels, have topped 900 euros per kilo. To savor 100 grams of glass eels cooked in olive oil with garlic and peppers, gourmets must shell out around US$130 dollars.

In 1964, a kilo of glass eels cost the equivalent of just 3.5 euros. But by 1997, the price had risen to 225 euros, and has been rising ever since.

"They've become 'white gold' and they may disappear from menus definitively, because nothing justifies selling them at this price," said Jean Pierre Xiradakis, who has not served them at his renowned restaurant, La Tupina, in the big southwestern city of Bordeaux for the past two years.

The eels are born in the Sargasso Sea, a five-million-square- kilometer body of slow-moving seaweed-covered water in the Atlantic Ocean between the West Indies and the Azores.

They then take nine to 11 months, using the Gulf Stream, to traverse the 6,000 km to France, where they swim up estuaries and into the nets of waiting fishermen.

The fishing season lasts from Nov. 15 to April 15.

"The price of glass eels is soaring mainly because of the demand in Asian countries," said Gilbert Pinchon, a professional fisherman on the estuary of the Gironde River, close to Bordeaux.

Live glass eels are exported to China, where they are farmed and sold as adult eels, notably to Japan, where eels are regarded as a delicacy. Northern Europeans also buy them to farm.

"Some 60 percent to 80 percent of the glass eels are exported to Asia and northern Europe at the moment -- the local market is secondary," said Eric Feunteun, a professor at the University of La Rochelle, north of Bordeaux, who is an eel expert.

At the same time, he said, the eels are becoming rare in France, mainly because the number of suitable habitats is dwindling.

In some cases marshes have been drained, in others, dams are making it difficult for the eels to swim up the rivers, he said. "When the eels return to the sea, they have problems passing the electricity turbines,' Feunteun said.

Pinchon warned: "Other fish are becoming equally rare -- there'll be none left soon in the Gironde estuary if it keeps on receiving insecticides and weedkiller."

Feunteun, who also heads the local seashore and environment institute, added: "Fishermen are the scapegoats, but fishing of glass eels is not the only reason for the decline of the species.

"In some places, there is overfishing, but in others, if the fishing was banned, we would deprive ourselves of information about the species which the fishermen give us, and it would be hypocritical solution."

What is needed, he said, is a Europe-wide study of the causes of the decline in numbers.

"Many professional fishermen are prepared to go along with shorter fishing seasons to preserve the species, but the authorities need to control poaching," Pinchon said.

juf/hn/jkb/jmy AFPLifestyle-France-Asia-food-fish AFP

GetAFP 2.10 -- MAR 4, 2005 11:58:50





News Search/Filter
Transaction Rates
19 Sep 18
Buy
Sell
AED1
3,923.78
3,923.78
AFN1
191.22
191.22
ALL1
132.86
132.86
AMD1
29.75
29.75
ANG1
7,814.78
7,814.78
AOA1
50.43
50.43
ARS1
362.50
362.50
AUD1
10,412.55
10,412.55
AWG1
8,000.41
8,000.41
AZN1
8,465.65
8,465.65
BAM1
8,612.62
8,612.62
BBD1
7,206.38
7,206.38
BDT1
171.79
171.79
BGN1
8,606.69
8,606.69
BHD1
38,220.14
38,220.14
BIF1
8.12
8.12
BMD1
14,412.77
14,412.77
BND1
9,539.47
9,539.47
BOB1
2,086.56
2,086.56
BRL1
3,464.53
3,464.53
BSD1
14,412.77
14,412.77
BTC1
91,283,053
91,283,053
BTN1
198.40
198.40
BWP1
1,321.97
1,321.97
BYN1
6,813.93
6,813.93
BZD1
7,173.18
7,173.18
CAD1
11,109.98
11,109.98
CDF1
8.78
8.78
CHF1
14,954.11
14,954.11
CLF1
616,457.50
616,457.50
CLP1
21.07
21.07
CNH1
2,100.74
2,100.74
CNY1
2,100.31
2,100.31
COP1
4.77
4.77
CRC1
24.94
24.94
CUC1
14,412.77
14,412.77
CUP1
565.20
565.20
CVE1
152.55
152.55
CZK1
661.85
661.85
DJF1
80.72
80.72
DKK1
2,256.03
2,256.03
DOP1
288.44
288.44
DZD1
122.13
122.13
EGP1
804.66
804.66
ERN1
961.03
961.03
ETB1
520.44
520.44
EUR1
16,829.80
16,829.80
FJD1
6,798.31
6,798.31
FKP1
18,977.31
18,977.31
GBP1
18,977.31
18,977.31
GEL1
5,890.00
5,890.00
GGP1
18,977.31
18,977.31
GHS1
3,021.86
3,021.86
GIP1
18,977.31
18,977.31
GMD1
296.25
296.25
GNF1
1.59
1.59
GTQ1
1,882.87
1,882.87
GYD1
68.96
68.96
HKD1
1,837.43
1,837.43
HNL1
600.05
600.05
HRK1
2,265.55
2,265.55
HTG1
207.72
207.72
HUF1
51.96
51.96
IDR1
1.00
1.00
ILS1
4,014.35
4,014.35
IMP1
18,977.31
18,977.31
INR1
197.83
197.83
IQD1
12.09
12.09
IRR1
0.33
0.33
ISK1
131.46
131.46
JEP1
18,977.31
18,977.31
JMD1
106.05
106.05
JOD1
20,313.90
20,313.90
JPY1
128.36
128.36
KES1
142.84
142.84
KGS1
211.52
211.52
KHR1
3.51
3.51
KMF1
34.21
34.21
KPW1
16.01
16.01
KRW1
12.84
12.84
KWD1
47,578.38
47,578.38
KYD1
17,301.62
17,301.62
KZT1
39.27
39.27
LAK1
1.69
1.69
LBP1
9.52
9.52
LKR1
87.17
87.17
LRD1
90.13
90.13
LSL1
968.25
968.25
LYD1
10,411.78
10,411.78
MAD1
1,534.80
1,534.80
MDL1
856.69
856.69
MGA1
4.22
4.22
MKD1
273.36
273.36
MMK1
9.23
9.23
MNT1
5.90
5.90
MOP1
1,784.55
1,784.55
MRO1
40.31
40.31
MRU1
402.59
402.59
MUR1
419.58
419.58
MVR1
935.89
935.89
MWK1
19.81
19.81
MXN1
766.51
766.51
MYR1
3,479.24
3,479.24
MZN1
237.59
237.59
NAD1
968.25
968.25
NGN1
39.75
39.75
NIO1
449.51
449.51
NOK1
1,767.47
1,767.47
NPR1
124.00
124.00
NZD1
9,493.62
9,493.62
OMR1
37,430.33
37,430.33
PAB1
14,412.77
14,412.77
PEN1
4,360.47
4,360.47
PGK1
4,337.72
4,337.72
PHP1
266.56
266.56
PKR1
116.88
116.88
PLN1
3,924.82
3,924.82
PYG1
2.46
2.46
QAR1
3,958.44
3,958.44
RON1
3,623.13
3,623.13
RSD1
142.27
142.27
RUB1
213.93
213.93
RWF1
16.47
16.47
SAR1
3,843.04
3,843.04
SBD1
1,826.92
1,826.92
SCR1
1,059.40
1,059.40
SDG1
800.99
800.99
SEK1
1,618.75
1,618.75
SGD1
10,520.60
10,520.60
SHP1
18,977.31
18,977.31
SLL1
1.71
1.71
SOS1
24.93
24.93
SRD1
1,932.52
1,932.52
SSP1
110.64
110.64
STD1
0.68
0.68
STN1
696.26
696.26
SVC1
1,647.71
1,647.71
SYP1
27.98
27.98
SZL1
967.73
967.73
THB1
442.65
442.65
TJS1
1,529.79
1,529.79
TMT1
4,106.22
4,106.22
TND1
5,187.43
5,187.43
TOP1
6,237.84
6,237.84
TRY1
2,252.29
2,252.29
TTD1
2,139.16
2,139.16
TWD1
468.97
468.97
TZS1
6.31
6.31
UAH1
512.08
512.08
UGX1
3.77
3.77
USD1
14,412.77
14,412.77
UYU1
434.44
434.44
UZS1
1.79
1.79
VEF1
0.05
0.05
VND1
0.62
0.62
VUV1
132.83
132.83
WST1
5,567.93
5,567.93
XAF1
25.65
25.65
XAG1
204,300.46
204,300.46
XAU1
17,289,799.16
17,289,799.16
XCD1
5,333.02
5,333.02
XDR1
20,209.56
20,209.56
XOF1
25.65
25.65
XPD1
14,605,570.10
14,605,570.10
XPF1
141.03
141.03
XPT1
11,746,354.18
11,746,354.18
YER1
57.58
57.58
ZAR1
968.98
968.98
ZMW1
1,325.82
1,325.82
ZWL1
44.71
44.71
Taxation Exchange Rates
31 Aug 16 - 06 Sep 16
USD 1
13,232.00
AUD 1
10,043.30
CAD 1
10,213.70
DKK 1
1,999.40
HKD 1
1,706.22
MYR 1
3,283.28
NZD 1
9,623.63
NOK 1
1,605.23
GBP 1
17,433.70
SGD 1
9,757.68
SEK 1
1,569.45
CHF 1
13,631.10
JPY 100
13,101.00
MMK 1
11.01
INR 1
197.29
KWD 1
43,920.70
PKR 1
126.23
PHP 1
285.00
SAR 1
3,528.53
LKR 1
91.12
THB 1
382.08
BND 1
9,756.53
EUR 1
14,885.50
CNY 1
1,987.61

Okusi Associates: Indonesian Business & Management Services