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When the EU forbade juveniles catches, back in 2006, we knew that it was a first step, but a long way was still ahead: sometimes, putting a rule in writing is not enough to have respected!

And, as a Greek, I know that the fatal taste that we developed for baby-fish in the Mediterranean will be hard to change: almost every taverna in my country continues to serve, at least occasionally, fried juveniles.

It is very much enshrined in our culture: I am a big fan of Andrea Camilleri, the well known Italian writer who created Montalbano, and I intend to write him a letter to pay tribute to his work, but also to ask him to stop having the protagonist of his novels eating small squids: that is unethical!

Moreover, if fishermen let the fish grow, they can catch it the year after, bigger and more valuable: fishing for juveniles is economically irrational.

Our consumers are driving a market that makes it attractive for fishermen to land and sell baby fish for human consumption, even if this is strictly forbidden by EU rules. This has to stop. You don’t need to be a scientist to foresee what will happen, if we continue with our bad habits.

Friday, I met with consumers’ and environmental organisations in Rome, and I asked them to do a public relations campaign and raise awareness among chefs, for them to stop serving juvenile fish in restaurants, and among consumers, who should refuse to buy them.

But that would solve only part of the problem: only through a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy we can reach the goal of increasing selectivity and not catching undersized fish in the first place, in the Mediterranean as anywhere else in EU waters!

A FATAL TASTE FOR BABY-FISH, 3.3 out of 5 based on 9 ratings

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  1. Maria Damanaki says:

    Funnily enough, a few days after I posted this, real policemen seized about 350Kg of juveniles in Porto Empedocle, the city to which Montalbano’s Vigata is inspired.

    This time, those who have breached the rules will be prosecuted. But I fear that without a cultural change it will be very difficult to tackle this issue.

    We need to make a collective commitment towards sustainability: nowadays, 80% of Mediterranean stocks are overfished and catching fish before it has the opportunity to spawn reduces the chances of changing the course.

    The example of Montalbano has served its purpose: many more people are now aware of the issue. And for those who ask: yes, indeed I wrote to Andrea Camilleri. Obviously not to ask him to change the tastes of il Commissario, but for his support for a difficult campaign, which, as I said, has to start from changing our culture.

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  2. fiksupojka says:

    Hello, we just have had an argument with my friend and the best way how to find who was right is to ask you. The paragraph about Andrea Camilleri was meant seriously, or ironically? Do you really intend to write him such a letter, or was it just a joke?

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  3. Maria Damanaki says:

    An Italian citizen wrote me an e-mail asking why the EU “struggles so tenaciously” against the fish of juveniles (“novellame”) in the EU States, but it still admits that juveniles are imported from third countries and if the EU intends to do anything to solve this issue.
    I think it might be worthy to share this interesting question -and its answer- with all the readers of this blog.

    As I underlined in my recent interventions at the Italian and at the European Parliaments, the consumption of juveniles is an issue of great concern, especially in Mediterranean countries. I know very well that this is enshrined in our culture: it will require a huge effort to stop this and I believe that this difficult campaign should start from changing our habits.
    If we want to put an end to this irrational waste, we have to convince consumers to take responsibility. Without this, any rule risks to fail to be effective.

    The reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy tabled last July includes a proposal for a new Common Market Organisation. Common marketing standards will be substantially simplified and minimum marketing sizes will be established, ensuring better consistency with conservation policy. They will facilitate the functioning of the internal market and contribute to the level playing field since they will apply to all products marketed in the EU, whether they come from inside or outside the EU.

    Moreover, labelling provisions will respond to an increasing demand by consumers to have reliable information about the products they buy. There are some mandatory labelling requirements, and there is also the possibility to add more information on a voluntary basis. These provisions will give a competitive edge to production facilities that are close to the market. For example, indicating the date of catch will benefit small-scale fishermen and aquaculture producers, who get to the local market quickly and can show that their products are fresh.

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  4. anastasiak says:

    Συγχαρητήρια κα Δαμανάκη για τη δήλωσή σας αυτή!Υπάρχει μεγάλη άγνοια για το θέμα και όσο και να προσπαθούν, μόνες τους οι αρμόδιες ελληνικές αρχές και οι ΜΚΟ δεν μπορούν να ευαισθητοποιήσουν όλες τις κοινωνικές ομάδες. Μια πολιτική δήλωση όπως η παραπάνω ενισχύει τη διάδοση της αλήθειας.
    Καλή συνέχεια στο έργο σας.

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Last update: 30/10/2014 | Top