EU funds to scale up Czech fish farms

Třeboňský kapr, foto: Ivana Vonderková

Czech fish farmers are set to receive significant support in the form of European funds. As of next October, breeders will be able to draw up to 1.1 billion crowns from the Agriculture ministry’s Operational Programme, largely funded by the European Union.

Photo: Ivana Vonderková,  Radio Prague International
One of the main goals of the new operational programme is to support fish consumption in the Czech Republic, which remains to be one of the lowest within the European Union. Czechs consume on average six kilo of fish per year, and freshwater fish make about a third of that amount.

The new Operational Programme Fisheries, drafted by the Agriculture Ministry and approved by the European Commission early in June, is set to support people who are already running a fish farm as well as those interested in setting up the business.

According to Agriculture Minister Marián Jurečka, the Czech fish farmers will receive altogether 1.1 billion crowns; around 855 million crowns from the European funds and some 245 from the Czech national budget. The Czech fish farmers will be able to draw the funds as of this October until the end of 2020.

The funds should be used mainly for maintaining and modernizing fish farms and fish ponds, but they can also be used for promoting fishing tourism and fish-processing companies. Previous attempts to boost fish consumption in the Czech Republic have not been very successful. The ministry has launched several massive campaigns in the past, but their effect on the sales of Czech fish has been negligible.

The most recent campaign on promoting local fish consumption, launched by former Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovič in 2009, has cost more than 170 million, but the sale of fish actually went down in the following years.

Moreover, the Supreme Audit Office concluded that much of the money was spent without a clear strategy and did not respect budget spending plans.

The current agriculture Minister Marián Jurečka says he would like to use the money on education programmes, rather than large campaigns.