Protesters – estimated to be in the region of almost 300,000 – have taken part in a demonstration in the streets of Madrid in opposition to the Spanish Government’s decision to eradicate non-native fish from its waters.
The proposal, described as ‘ludicrious’ by opponents, would have far-reach effects on recreational fishing in the country as it would entail the removal of many of the most cherished species in the region, including carp, black bass and catfish.
Spain has one of the biggest recreation fishing markets in Europe and its celebrated Ebro river is renowned for its carp, catfish and zander population.
Organisers of the rally in the Spanish capital say that carp have been in the country’s waterways for more than 1,000 years without any complaints, raising questions, which have repercussions for other countries within the EU, of how far back in time you have to go to make a proper distinction between native and non native species.
José Luis Bruna, President of the Spanish Federation of Fishing and Casting, insists that angling has always coexisted with the environment and that the ‘invasive’ species like carp are naturalized.
The fish concerned were not originally included in the Catalogue of Invasive Species drawn up by the Spanish government in 2013, but have been included on the basis of scientific reports.
Jean-Claude Bel, EFTTA CEO, stated: “I have no idea what the result will be, but I believe it is EFTTA’s duty to support the Spanish recreational fishing industry, not only in their country, but also in Brussels.
“Ultimately, and regardless of the number of people who were there, the most important thing is that we witnessed one of the biggest events ever to have occurred in Madrid. It was just a pity it did not attract the media attention it deserved.”