Fisheries gearing up for Christmas carp sales around the country, but overall consumption remains low

Třeboňský kapr, foto: Ivana Vonderková

Czech fisheries are gearing up for the annual Christmas carp sales around the country, when sales of home-bred carp go through the roof due to the traditional Czech Christmas dinner of fried carp and potato salad. Although carp makes up for close to 90 percent of the fresh water fish bred in the Czech Republic many Czechs only ever eat it once a year- the rest is sold abroad.

Photo: Ivana Vonderková,  Radio Prague International
Although it is a landlocked country, the Czech Republic is dotted with lakes and water basins (approximately 24, 000of them, covering 52,000 hectares). The country’s fisheries annually produce 20,000 tons of fish, predominantly carp, but also trout and tolstolobik. Half of the produce is exported, the rest is consumed at home, carp mainly at Christmas time, trout is now on the menu of most restaurants.

Even so Czechs have not developed a taste for fish and the small amount they consume is imported sea fish. The average annual consumption of fish in Europe is 11 kilograms per head, in the Czech Republic it is merely 5.5 kilos and only 1.5 of that is freshwater fish. The amount recommended by the WHO is 17 kilograms of fish per head.

Despite the nation’s obvious preference for pork and beef, Czechs have not remained entirely deaf to advice from nutrition experts and fish imports have gradually been increasing. Between the years 2001 and 2015 imports of sea-fish increased by 41 percent and exports of Czech carp, mainly to neighbouring Germany, also increased by as much as 80 percent with fisheries working hard to improve the reputation of what is often perceived as a second rate fish breed.

Although fishing remains a popular hobby with over 350 thousand registered fishing permits for the 2,000 lakes, rivers and water basins where fishing is allowed the quality of fish caught in the wild is not always optimal due to the quality of the water and the use of chemicals in nearby fields and many fishermen simply fish for the enjoyment it brings rather than the catch they can take home.