Snails Have Unexpectedly Become Inland Fish
Roman snails (Helix pomatia) systematically belong to the helicid family, a group of terrestrial snails with spherical shells. These large, air-breathing snails live in south-eastern and central parts of Europe. They favor damp areas with long grass. So far they have been known under many names: Burgundy snails, edible snails, escargots, but no one ever has called them… fish. That detail has changed recently when the European Union reclassified the species as inland fish! Many scientists, biologists and teachers have been shocked as the news was revealed. As the decision of the EU commission reached a wider audience there have been voices of discontent over the bizarre regulation. Some say that even little kids can name at least three distinguishing features that snails and fish do not have in common. Roman snails live on the ground and breathe air, while fish spend their entire life under water and use gills to extract oxygen from their water environment. Roman snails crawl; or rather move by sliding on their single foot, while fish swim using their fins to thrust in the direction they wish to go. Last but not least, land snails have two pairs of tentacles that stick out of their heads and fish manage just with one pair, placed on the upper side of their heads.
The Absurdities of the European Union Directives
The controversial decision by the EU commission was initiated by the French delegation. The significant change in the classification of snails results in the subsidized breeding of snails in, the same way as fisheries in any other European country. The French government has a powerful farming lobby and the subsidies will help French farmers prosper. Snails, a French delicacy, are bred in any one of France’s two hundred snail farms. The French consume 25,000 tons of snails a year which equals about 700 million individual snails with two-thirds of those snails in the world consumed in France.
The snail reclassification joins the growing list of EU peculiarities. In 2002 the EU issued a directive in which a carrot would be considered a fruit. This was made in favor of the Portuguese, who make a popular carrot jam. The EU directive concerning the composition and labeling of different kinds of jam was defined to cover carrot jam in Portugal.