Efficient Management of CZK 843 Million, But Czech Republic’s Fisheries Program Falls Short of Primary Goals

The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) has lauded the Ministry of Agriculture for its effective management and adherence to regulations during the distribution of CZK 843 million among 888 projects as part of the Operational Programme Fisheries 2014-2020 in the Czech Republic. However, the program has been unable to achieve its primary objectives of establishing a producer organization and boosting freshwater fish consumption in the country. While the Ministry defends its handling of the program, concerns and criticisms surrounding its shortcomings persist.

The central objective of the program was to set up producer organizations in the fishing industry, enabling centralized purchasing and selling of fish and fish products and providing leverage during negotiations with retail chains. Regrettably, the SAO has identified a significant stumbling block: fishermen’s reluctance to join these organizations due to the requirement to share sensitive economic and social data. Despite this setback, the Ministry is resolute in its commitment to the program and intends to facilitate the formation of an association of fish farmers focusing on intensive aquaculture systems, with plans to invite applications in the near future.

Another area of focus under the program was to increase freshwater fish consumption in the Czech Republic. While this objective was also outlined in the “Multi-Year National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture to 2024,” the SAO’s statistics reveal that efforts to promote consumption have not yielded the desired results. Per capita consumption of freshwater fish has stagnated, declining from 1.29 kilograms in 2017 to 1.23 kilograms in 2021.

The SAO has also underscored that the fishing industry’s significance in the country’s economy remains marginal. Over the period between 2011 and 2018, the industry’s share in the GDP fluctuated between 0.01% and 0.02%. However, the fishing industry plays a crucial role in other non-economic functions, such as water accumulation and landscape retention, as well as supporting sport and recreational activities. With an extensive network of 24,000 ponds and reservoirs spanning approximately 52,000 hectares, the Czech Republic benefits from these essential ancillary functions.

While the Ministry of Agriculture has been praised for its prudent financial management, the mixed results of the Operational Programme Fisheries 2014-2020 highlight the need for further assessment and recalibration of strategies to achieve the program’s objectives in the future. As the Ministry continues its efforts to address the program’s challenges, stakeholders will keenly observe its endeavors to promote sustainable growth and development in the Czech Republic’s fishing industry.

Article by Prague Forum

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