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!