The Ministry of Health Jan Blatny, speaking at a news conference, assured Czechs that stalls selling live carp for traditional Christmas Eve dinners will be allowed.
In a few days, carp stalls will appear in the streets of Prague. This year, however, the sale of Christmas carp will take place under strict hygiene measures.
Carp is being offered by over 2,500 registered sellers around the country, a spokesperson for the State Veterinary Administration said on Tuesday.
However, the Czech Fishermen’s Association warns that people should not wait until the last minute to buy the traditional Czech fish and risk to stand in long queues.
“If Czechs buy carps now, they certainly won’t last until Christmas and will have to go to the freezer. I recommend the purchase around December 20,” said Michal Kratochvíl, director of the Fishermen’s Association of the Czech Republic.
Some families choose to buy the fish live and store it in the bathtub. It sounds silly, but there’s a reason for this. Carp are bottom feeders. The idea is that a few days swimming in clean water helps to flush mud from the fish’s digestive tract.
“A bathtub is an unnatural and highly stressful environment for an animal. In addition, chlorinated water can damage his gills and respiratory system. The temperature of the water in the tub is usually too high, which can cause a thermal shock to the fish,” said RyboLove campaign coordinator Lucie Moravcová.
For Czech fishermen, the Christmas sale of carp is the peak of the season. This year, they reported a sharp drop in exports, especially to Germany, Poland, France or Slovakia. Tons of carps will remain in the ponds even during the winter.
Fried carp is usually served with potato salad. Some people keep a live fish in their bath and kill it before dinner on Christmas Eve.
Třeboňský kapr, or carp from Trebon, has been added to the EU’s list of protected food products in 2007.