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Clarion Congress & Hotel, Polaris


Michal Lostak, Lukas Zagata, Jiri Hrabak (Czech University of Life Sciences Prague).

Topic: Tradition as an Innovation (fishery between the past and future: the Czech case)?

Key words: freshwater fish, traditions, discourse analysis


Fishery for a landlocked country might be seen as an uninteresting segment of the society, moreover if this sector in the case of Czechia employs less than 1,000 people and fish consumption does not exceed more than 5 kg per capita/year (domestic freshwater fish consumption is only 1 kg). However, a fish plays an important role in the Czech tradition during Christmas (“the must” dish for Christmas is deep fired carp with potato salad; the carps are sold a week before Christmas on streets directly slaughtered from vats; the carps are harvested from ponds in late autumn during festive events with hundreds or thousands of visitors). Fishery also shaped the landscape in the history (since medieval times) through building (and latter closing) the fishponds. Hence, traditional Czech landscape includes ponds. It influences traditional images of the Czech landscape. Under such ambiguous situation (neglected sector with seasonal Christmas peak and high importance to landscape), the paper questions the concept of tradition when related to fish. Through discourse analysis of more than 50 interviews with stakeholders operating in the localities with freshwater fish production (fishpond owners, fish producers, fish restaurants managers, schools with fishery programmes, fish tourism actors, environmental and landscape protection bodies) the text investigates how fish tradition is constructed. It means the text analyses the discourse about the role played by events like autumn carp drag netting, fish gastronomy, fish related tourism and fish related landscape protection in the construction of this tradition. These findings are confronted with the results of Q methodology conducted among these stakeholders. Preliminary results suggest that fish is considered to have a potential to be an innovation paradoxically due to its tradition – it means as a sort of retro-innovation.

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