A resolution adopted today by the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee requests the European Commission to evaluate the role of recreational fisheries in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) “so that both types of maritime fishing – commercial and recreational – can be managed in a balanced, fair and sustainable manner with a view to achieving the desired objectives”.
The text, a non-legislative binding report entitled “State of play of recreational fisheries in the European Union”, was drafted by MEP Norica Nicolai who is also the Chair of the Forum on Recreational Fisheries and Aquatic Environment. The report has some well-founded, positive messages and suggestions about Europe’s very important, but often ignored, recreational fisheries sector.
The European Anglers Alliance (EAA) and the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) are very pleased with today’s vote and are looking forward to the final adoption by plenary vote in June.
This is yet another important step towards a much needed full recognition by the European Institutions of the recreational fisheries sector and its importance to people, communities and the economy, including the implementation of the ecosystem-based fisheries management approach and optimal, or ‘best use’, of the society’s wild fish resource.
The EAA and EFTTA have contributed to the preparation of the report, also with the organising of a well-attended conference that took place in the European Parliament in January: “The State of play of recreational fisheries in the EU - The anglers’ point of view & the importance of recognition of recreational fisheries at the EU level”. Several MEPs were present, including the rapporteur and the shadow rapporteurs, as well as representatives of the European Commission and Member States. On this occasion, the EAA and EFTTA reiterated the need to include the recreational fishing sector in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) on an equal footing with the two other major fisheries stakeholders, commercial fisheries and aquaculture, for the EU to be able to achieve CFP targets, most notably, to secure sustainable management of fish stocks.
The report acknowledges that the recreational fisheries contribution to the European economy is estimated - for marine recreational fisheries alone - around 10.5 billion EUR annually, supporting close to 100,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
The EAA and EFTTA welcome the report’s call for more and better catch- and socio-economic data, and to collect this data regularly in order to be able to present a clearer picture of the recreational sector’s catches, its socio-economic importance and trends.
As an important contributor to the blue economy, the development of recreational fishing in the tourism sector should be supported as well. In this regard, the report suggests the Commission to designate recreational fishing as a theme of the EDEN sustainable tourism project year, and to fund projects via the COSME program.
The report raises a number of relevant and important issues e.g. the need to establish a clear and uniform definition for recreational fisheries at the EU level, and that the different recreational fisheries segments should be evaluated individually as they have a different impact on the environment and the economy.
Concerning the report’s call for improved reporting and monitoring of catches it is worth noticing that the EU has included the pilot project called ”Control scheme for sea bass recreational catches” in its 2018 budget (300,000 EUR).