French fishmongers fined for not using Latin labels

Fishmongers regularly sell produce at the famous market at Vieux-Port, Marseille

Fishmongers in Marseille have been fined up to €1,500 each for failing to mention the precise Latin names of their fish on their market stall labels.

Fines of €400-€1,500 and verbal warnings were handed out to the fishmongers selling at the famous Vieux-Port in Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) on June 14, after they were discovered to be selling fish without specifying the Latin species names on the produce labels.

Some were also found to have omitted the price on their labels.

According to reports, agents from numerous trading and fisheries government bodies were present that day, including from Les Directions Départementales des Territoires et de la Mer (DDTM), De La Protection des Populations (DDPP) et De La Direction Régionale des Entreprises, de la Concurrence, de la Consommation, du Travail et de l’Emploi (Direccte).

The European regulation 1379/2013 - which specifies that the Latin name for fish must be listed alongside the price - has been in force since 2013.

It is intended to allow consumers to identify the exact species, and make it difficult for less-than-scrupulous sellers to purposefully mislabel their fish.

The Latin names for some of the most common produce include eleginus for cod, lophius for monkfish, epinephelus for grouper, esox for pike, microstomus for sole, and oncorhynchus for salmon.

Yet, some have disputed the fines, saying that it is the first time they have had problems in over 25 years.

One fishmonger, Marie, speaking to newspaper Le Parisien, said: “Clients do not even know the difference between a red scorpion fish or a red mullet, and now they ask us to put the name on there in Latin?"

She added: “These people are bureaucrats who don’t know what it’s like on the ground. No client has ever asked me for a name in Latin.”

Another fishmonger, named Abdel, added: “These inspections are all well and good, but enforcing the rules in this way and for this reason is disproportionate.”

As well as a fine, Abdel claims to have had all of his daily stock confiscated in the inspection, and is now facing a court appearance, as he was not able to immediately verify exactly where his produce had been fished.

He said: “I wanted to call the fisherman and double check, but the inspectors did not let me. It was humiliating; they could have at least given the [confiscated] food to people in need."

And yet, Mayor of Marseille, Jean-Claude Gaudin, said the demand for Latin names could be stopped in future, after he reportedly spoke directly to President Emmanuel Macron on the subject during a lunch this week.

Mr Gaudin said: “After bursting out laughing [at the ridiculousness of the situation], Emmanuel Macron guaranteed to me that the fishmongers at Vieux-Port will no longer have to write the names in Latin of the fish they are selling.”

Yet, it would appear that the fines and court summons for the fishmongers caught this week, still stand.

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