Martin Smrek

0 karmaJoined


Thanks for publishing this! I was looking forward to this summary, since we (Humánny pokrok) are running a campaign to ban live carp sales in Slovakia, which was inspired by the work of Otwarte Klatki in Poland, and Weronika has raised some good questions. But eventually, we ended up with a decision to continue our campaign, with some adjustments. There is a couple of reasons for this:

  1. The trend to switch carp for salmon doesn’t seem to be particularly strong in Slovakia and our survey showed that if live carps wouldn’t be available, only 3.3% of people (which is close to statistical error) answered that they would switch to salmon and 6.3% to trout.
  2. The public awareness of fish welfare issues is very low in Slovakia. Over 58% think that good conditions for carps are secured during live carp sales and only 32% support the ban on live carp sales. This seems to be a major obstacle when it comes to future campaigns focused on high impact fish welfare areas such as farmed salmon - it is hard to explain concerns about welfare of remote fish species to people, when the local norm with similar species is extreme cruelty which is not even publicly challenged.
  3. There was practically no progress in fish welfare in Slovakia other than a couple of veterinary suggestions on proper handling of the carps during sales, which were mostly not followed. Which is again a poor basis for pushing for future fish welfare interventions.
  4. There is no other organization actively working on fish welfare issues in Slovakia. So it is either us or no one.
  5. There seem to be a lot of questions among European organizations about the best approaches to fish welfare campaigns and about which interventions would be most effective in the EU. And since Slovakia has one of the lowest fish consumption levels in the EU and since it is a rather small country, this seems to stronly limit the possibly negative impact of a campaign that could eventually prove to be the wrong course of action later. But it could provide useful data for future EU-wide campaign decisions. And one of the surprising outcomes after the launch of the campaign was a very positive reception of the campaign by both the media and the public, which is apparently something that does not happen very often with fish campaigns in Europe, and which is one of the frequently reported obstacle for fish welfare campaigns. 

In our context, the benefits of setting ground for future fish welfare campaigns and establishing at least basic concerns for fish seem to outweigh the risks of pushing some people to switch to salmon. So now we are still running our campaign, but we tuned down the narrative to a point where it does not confront carp consumption but focuses exclusively on the practice of transporting carps to cities and selling them alive to consumers. So far we have secured commitments from almost all major retailers to end live carp sales and we will continue to push for commitments from the rest and from municipalities, and prepare for a legislative campaign to ban the practice. However, thanks to concerns raised by Weronika a couple of months ago, we decided not to go beyond that and to limit the campaign goals. We are now aiming for a ban on live carp sales with plans to work with farmers on some additional welfare interventions at farms. But we will not push beyond that, since the local carp industry will play an important role as a sort of fish consumption buffer to which we can direct consumers away from carnivorous fish species in the future, before decent plant-based fish alternatives will be broadly available.

In summary: Ff we had seen as much progress as was made in Poland - retailer commitments, raised public awareness and support, practical ban on selling live fish to consumers, and other engaged organizations in the area - we would probably come to the same decision. But in our case we still see a lot of first steps that need to be made in order to make progress with global fish welfare issues in the future.