Activists call for end to Christmas carp sales


Tanks of live carp are currently to be seen on streets around the Czech Republic, with some Czechs taking the traditional Christmas food home alive and others having them butchered on the spot. Not everybody approves of the custom and animal rights activists have been staging dramatic protests against a practice they regard as extremely cruel.

Around Christmas, countless carp-selling stalls appear in Czechs streets and town squares. Live carp are housed in special portable water tanks, with several dozen fish swimming together in this confined space. As the Christmas meal choice is selected, the creatures are usually butchered before customers’ eyes. Or live carp are taken home and stored in the bath before the fateful moment. A small number of animal rights groups have been voicing their displeasure at such practices, arguing that they are unnecessarily cruel. Activists have also pointed out an apparent double standard over disgust at dog killing practices in Asia, and they manner in which carp are stored and killed in the Czech Republic.

Lukáš Novosad of the Brno-based Kolektiv pro zvířata, or Pro-Animal Collective, explains what he and other activists find so objectionable about Czech carp practices.

Photo: Archive of Radio PraguePhoto: Archive of Radio Prague “At issue for us is the wider principle of the human approach to animals. We want to point out the illogic of choosing which animals we proclaim to love, and which we will subject to cruelty. Especially during Christmas time, which is declared to be a time of peace and love, it is hard to fathom that people go around and ignore that millions of animals are being killed right in the streets.”

Along with other animal rights groups, Novosad’s organization have undertaken attention-grabbing protests against the killing of carp.

“There are many such events taking place around the Czech Republic. For example, there is one group called Vánoce bez násilí (Christmas Without Violence), which just informs people about how to replace carp on the Christmas menu. For a number of years, we at the Pro-Animal Collective have been organizing a kind of provocative stunt called ‘The Sale of Christmas Dogs’. We choose this provocative form because at Christmas, people are preoccupied with shopping and other related matters… In order to get their attention, we substitute carp for dogs, and this helps people to see things very differently.”

Photo: Archive of Radio PraguePhoto: Archive of Radio Prague Novosad also denied that Czechs were largely apathetic or even hostile to the idea of removing the traditional fried carp from Christmas menus:

“Things have changed in recent years. Across the world, greater interest is being expressed in vegetarianism – and primarily veganism. Of course people react differently, and often don’t see our point-of-view. But more and more people are supporting us, expressing an interest in our leaflets, and even offering to help. Of course it isn’t easy to persuade people to change their existing habits, but we are seeing change, believe there is a point to it, and will certainly continue.”