Private and exclusive dining experiences, while not a new concept, were making a resurgence in the year leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak. There was a growing number of restaurants offering private and discrete spaces, for those able to pay the US$15,000 initiation fee plus $7,500 annually to maintain the privilege of being able to dine with people who can afford to pay for an extra layer of restricted access.
This was just one of the topics covered in the Eater’s The Power Issue series, discussing the power of the restaurant world and its ability to ‘shape one of the most meaningful ways people come together in public space’, including deciding who gets to be in the room. The difficulty of making reservations, often including a long waiting period is given as one of the reasons for the growing demand. Fine dining and gourmet food are desired by many, not only those willing to pay for privacy.
Part of this desire, the taste for luxury seafood, is driving a trade in endangered marine species from eels to abalone and sea cucumber. When you add in the more well-known marine species including shark and stingray it comes as no surprise that the global market for the commercial fishing industry was projected to reach $438.59 billion by 2026, up from $240.99 billion in 2017.
Given this sector was booming pre-COVID-19, again this is the time to decide if we, as customers, want things to return to business-as-usual once lockdown is eased. A growing body of work would recommend that normal service doesn’t resume.
More-and-more researchers are calling out what they term “the big lie” behind marine conservation; the key problem being lack of monitoring, regulation and enforcement. This not only leads to overfishing but also unethical fishing practices, with more than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles killed each year as they get caught in abandoned fishing gear.