Jan Kappel, EFTTA’s Public Affairs Officer and lobbyist in Brussels, highlighted five key issues for the tackle industry when he presented at the association’s Annual General Assembly (AGA) in the Belgian capital on Friday 14th June.
The use of lead weights/sinkers, single use plastics, new and revised EU legislation (sea fisheries), an electronic control scheme for recreational bass catches and the ongoing cormorant problem are all matters of vital importance to the trade, he told EFTTA members.
The meeting heard that there is constant pressure for more lead restrictions via amendments or additions to various EU and national legislation and conventions (chemicals, environment, labelling and health). The EU Commission is to decide ‘soon’ about a possible ban on lead sinkers and jigheads in (a) wetlands; and (b) the whole of the EU territory.
There is also pressure from conventions – the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals – while both organisations are looking into lead in fishing under the Basel/Stockholm/Rotterdam convention, which deals with dangerous chemicals.
EFTTA’s position paper of 2014 encourages the voluntary substitution of lead where possible by 2020 and that lead weights heavier than 0.06 grams should be made from suitable alternative materials. Denmark, Holland, Sweden and the UK already have some form of lead ban or restriction in force.
Kappel also told the meeting that marine litter is very high on international, EU and national agendas. On the 3 of July this year a directive on single-use plastics and fishing gear came into effect (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2019/904/oj). EFTTA had submitted proposals for amendments, with a main request to have recreational angling gear exempted from the directive. “However, we now know that will not happen,” said Kappel.
“The Commission has assured us that we do not have much to fear from this Directive.” But can we trust that,” he queried. “They don’t consider us a big problem yet, but some day they maybe will.” Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes require that producers of plastic fishing gear shall cover the costs of waste collection from port reception facilities and its transport and treatment, and the costs of awareness-raising measures. The EPR schemes and other requirements in the directive are now under development nationally. The EPR schemes shall be implemented between January 2023 and 31 December 2024, depending on the product. EFTTA encourages its members to get involved by contacting the relevant ministry in their (EU) home country. Norway is also working on implementing the directive.
With regard to new and revised EU legislative acts important to recreational sea fisheries, Kappel explained that EFTTA has come a long way. “When the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was introduced in the 70s, no-one had given any thought to recreational fisheries, which meant that our sector’s interests were not taken into account at all. That would still be the case if EFTTA and the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) didn’t lobby.”
However, he warned that ‘we are not there yet’ and the need to be treated on an equal footing with commercial fisheries and aquaculture had to be set in stone in the next revision of the CFP.