What's so special about Burtnieks zander? Latvian Radio met with chef Artūrs Taškāns, whose restaurant's menu includes the fish.
“The environment where it's grown, it's probably the difference, which makes it all taste light, refreshing [..] As much as I've eaten zander from other lakes, this is the most delicious zander available on the Latvian market,” Taškāns said.
Fishers have previously been frustrated by the fact that industrial fishing does harm to the lake's fish resources. Therefore, its volumes have been reduced this year.
The senior environmental specialist of Valmiera municipality, Evija Ozola, said: "Scientists remain in their position that zander is doing very well in the lake. Another story is that zander isn't available in Burtnieks in such a size as the fishermen would like. [Not enough] to be trophy fish, but the number of zanders is enough. We have also introduced measures to conserve this resource. Fishermen have limits, reduced by two and a half times. [..] Clearly, they're not happy, it's a reduction in the amount of catch for them. It also means a reduction in income, but that is why we are also coming to the fishermen in a way towards this brand of Burtnieks zander."
Zander has been one of the informal symbols of Lake Burtnieks for years. Therefore, according to Vidzeme University researcher Andris Klepers, public attitudes and understanding of this value need to be changed.
The brand of Burtnieks zander, according to Klepers, would also help fishermen to sell their products at a higher price. They would therefore not have any losses from the reduction of catch levels.
“How, without increasing the volume significantly or doubling, to make a fisherman still earn? It's a slightly different business model, another type of business thinking that includes emphasizing those benefits, and creating a brand. I have to compliment the fishermen here that they were open, prepared to look for new approaches,” Klepers said.
Another step towards establishing the visibility of the Burtniekd zander as a quality local product is an application for it to be included in the European register of protected geographical indications.
"The mechanism for protecting geographical origin is designed in Europe for these products, which come from a particular region and that there are its specificities, then they are registered, protected. It guarantees quality, value, including legal protection. You can't say that another fish is a Burtnieks zander. Strengthening this brand requires understanding which benefits are then the greatest. First of all, they are the fishermen themselves, the neighborhood of Burtnieki Lake, the guesthouses who earn from increasing the value of this fish story. "
The visual identity of the Burtnieks zander brand is also created, so that any buyer in the market or restaurant has a guarantee that the fish has grown in Lake Burtnieks.