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Czech supermarket chain bans sale of live carp at Christmas

A large scaly carp / Photo: Patrick Pleul/dpa/Archivbild
A large scaly carp / Photo: Patrick Pleul/dpa/Archivbild

The supermarket chain Billa joins the ban on the sale of live carp in front of its stores.

Carp on Christmas Eve is as much a part of the festive season in the Czech Republic as Christmas goose is in Germany. However, there is growing resistance to the custom of offering and selling the fish alive in vats. Following the discount supermarket chain Lidl, the supermarket chain Billa is now also no longer allowing such stalls in front of its stores, as a spokeswoman for the Rewe subsidiary said on Thursday. Customers would have the option of buying pre-packed fish from the chiller cabinet in the supermarket.

In the Czech Republic, it is still widespread to buy carp alive and have it gutted at the stall or let it swim in the bathtub at home until it is slaughtered. Many people don't want to give up this tradition, even though refrigerators have long been found in almost every household. The "Christmas without violence" campaign has been campaigning against such methods for years. "Contrary to popular belief, according to the latest scientific findings, carp are sensitive and amazingly intelligent creatures," said their spokesperson Tereza Vandrovcova.

The animal welfare organization "Compassion in World Farming" submitted a petition with more than 10,000 signatures to the parliament in Prague at the beginning of December. It calls for a legal ban on the sale of live fish. Last year, the state veterinary authority SVS inspected 760 of the more than 3,000 carp sales stalls. Abuses were found in 2.2 percent of cases. Despite the Christmas custom, fish consumption in the Czech Republic is below the European average at around five kilos per year.

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