Christian Rambaud, fish captain
at the european commission

With 30 years at the Commission on the clock, he doesn't have an ounce of anger or bitterness, but rather a bright-eyed enthusiasm when he looks at Europe's success story in terms of sustainable fishing.

Christian Rambaud, fish captain|at the european commission

With 30 years at the Commission on the clock, he doesn't have an ounce of anger or bitterness, but rather a bright-eyed enthusiasm when he looks at Europe's success story in terms of sustainable fishing.

The world of fishing has made considerable efforts in terms of innovation.

While at Unesco young chefs, who brilliantly competed to show their commitment to sustainable fishing, are being awarded with the Roellinger prize, we ask Christian Rambaud if such an event could have been envisioned ten years ago.

"I don't think so. Ten years ago we were still under the impression that resources were more or less inexhaustible and knowledge about the issue remained a matter for experts. Do you remember the last time people came to arms over the question of fishing? It wasn't that long ago. It was the Turbot War in 1995 when the Canadiens boarded and halted a Spanish ship that was illegally fishing protected species! What really increased the awareness of this issue was the bluefin tuna crisis that emerged in 2004, when people came to realize that the stocks were not limitless."

It was this crisis that consequently led Relais & Châteaux, in 2010 under the impetus of its vice president Olivier Roellinger, to ban bluefin tuna from the menus of its hotels and restaurants.

But Christian Rambaud's activism doesn't end with just facts and specific actions, and if on a whole, only one indisputable success in Europe were to be held on to, it's sure that his joint policies on fishing would come in first.

"We have actually advanced significantly since 1986 and the first major legal joint resolutions, but we really made a huge step in 2013 when EMPs approved [through a large majority] the measure requiring fishermen to offload all of their catch. Imagine a fishing boat that collects three tons of fish yet throws one ton of them back into the sea because they are considered not as valuable at the market, or unsellable. Today, it is prohibited and the world of fishing has made considerable efforts in terms of innovation to do something with this ton deemed worthless. [Which can be seen through] co-products such as collagen or fish meal or the updating of tastes for fish that are less noble or less known to consumers."

And the economic circle is complete; from fishing professionals to chefs, whilst not forgetting everyday cooks, each one takes on his/her role of responsibility in the preservation of the ocean. 

Ok, wonderful, with Christian we admit that we Europeans are particularly virtuous, but can't fish move to other countries without a passport and get fished outside of the European Union?

"That's true! But it's still difficult for outside countries to ignore our regulations since very simply we are the largest global market, not in volume, but economically speaking. And if they don't respect our rules, we have a system well known in soccer: a yellow card! So we give them a few months to set things right–and we can even help them to satisfy the conditions–otherwise it's a red car. And there, the European market becomes closed to them."

So, everything is on track and it's soon time for Christian to retire?

Don't believe it. As long as we have convictions, we can always go further. Christian opens his bag full of brochures, in a variety of languages, titled "Pocket Guide to the EU's New Fish and Aquaculture Consumer Labels." He carefully hands them out to the chefs of the Roellinger contest, just in case they have a memory lapse! 

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