Carp production in Czechia lower than expected this season, but prices to remain the same

With Christmas Eve just around the corner, Czechs around the country are preparing for their traditional Christmas Eve dinner – fried carp with potato salad. But this year, the production of carp was poor, with factors such as climate change and predators impacting the fish population. To learn more, I spoke with Michal Kratochvíl, Director of the Fishing Association of the Czech Republic. 

Michal Kratochvíl  | Photo: The Fishing Association of the Czech Republic

“It’s true that the production of carp in the Czech Republic was lower than expected this year. This was caused by several factors. The first was less water due to climate change and a drought in part of the season. The other factor was predators that come every year to prey on the carp, mainly cormorants. The final factor was that when the season started in spring time, there were colder temperatures that affected the production at the start of the season.”

You mentioned the predators that prey on the carp, is there anything being done to mitigate that challenge?

Catching a pond full of carp | Photo: Lucie Hochmanová,  Czech Radio

“Well, it’s a pan-European problem. Cormorants are migrating throughout Europe every year, and this problem should be solved on the European level. These birds nest in the northern part of Europe, migrate south during autumn, and spend time here in winter. In spring, they migrate back to the northern part of Europe.”

Has this slower season of production impacted the prices of carp this year?

“It depends which market you are talking about. The domestic market here in the Czech Republic, it’s more or less the same. But it’s mainly affecting the exports, because half of the country’s production is exported abroad to surrounding countries like Germany, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, and even further places like France and Belgium. This helps to increase the price for exports because there is high demand throughout Europe.”

Could you give me an overview about what the prices are looking like for carp this year here in Czechia?

“As fish breeders explained to us, the prices will be the same as they were last year. The costs are set, and prices increased last year, impacted by the war in Ukraine; such as the high cost of fuels, a big increase of the price of fish food, employee wages, and of course energy costs. This year we are talking about three Euros per kilo for a wholesale price, excluding value-added tax. But for re-sale, which is what customers will pay, it’s about five Euros per kilo for live fish, because you can buy live fish in the Czech Republic. For processed fish from the supermarket, it would be about eight to 12 Euros per kilo, it depends on whether you buy it from a vat or at the supermarket.”

Photo: Ivana Vonderková,  Radio Prague International

Some Czechs have switched the carp dinner out for schnitzel for instance, but do you find that there is a similar demand for Czechs to buy and consume carp at Christmas time?

“I think it depends, because there are people that insist on tradition, and will always buy live carp or processed carp. But the demand is more or less the same. Czech people usually eat about 10,000 tons of carp every year. Since our population is ten million, it means, on average, that a person eats one kilo of carp per year.”

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