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Food & wine
NW Istria

In search of the shellfish of northwestern Istria

Shellfish are one of the most popular seafood delicacies in northwestern Istria. They are caught year-round, but they are most flavourful in February and March, when local restaurants design special menus as part of the Shellfish Days festival. The most prized local shellfish is the scallop, while mussels, oysters, sea truffles, queen scallops and Noah’s arks are also popular.

Safe buying

It is safest to buy shellfish from one of the dozen farms in Istria, which regularly check the quality of the sea water and their shellfish in accordance with Croatia’s laws and regulations. Mussels and oysters are the most popular shellfish in Istria’s farms, while the other shellfish mostly grow in natural habitats on the sandy sea bottom.

Permitted ways of catching shellfish

In Croatia, just like for recreational and sports fishing, a permit is required to catch shellfish, whether from a boat or from the shore. The permitted daily catch of live shellfish must not exceed 2kg, except for mussels, of which up to 5kg is allowed.

Catching shellfish and minimum size

Mediterranean scallop
(lat. Pecten jacobaeus)
10 cmAt greater depths, on silty and sandy sea floors near sea walls and large rocks
Diving, drift nets, or a special fishing tool called a rampon
Mediterranean mussel
(lat. Mytilus galloprovincialis)
6 cmThey grow in colonies attached to solid surfaces such as rocks, stones, other kinds of shellfish, buoys and boats. They are the most popularly farmed shellfish.Diving
European flat oyster
(lat. Ostrea edulis)
7 cmIn the bays and canals of Istria at depths of up to 10m, attacked to rocks. They are also farmed.Diving
Sea truffle
(lat. Venus spp.)
2,5 cmAt depths of 0.5-20m on silty and sandy sea floors.Diving, using a special method involving driving a small metal tool into the sea floor.
Queen scallop
(lat. Chlamys varia)
UndefinedOn the silty and sandy sea floors of protected inlets, mostly attached to the bottom.Diving, drift nets, or a special fishing tool called a rampon
Noah’s ark
(lat. Arca noae)
5 cmOn silty and sandy sea floorsDiving, or using a special metal net called a kunjkara
#Regional delicacies
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