EFTTA RESPONDS TO CONSULTATION OVER EU ACTION PLAN FOR SHARKS
EFTTA has delivered an official response on behalf of the fishing tackle trade to the European Commission over its ‘Consultation on an EU action plan for sharks’.
The EC is creating an action plan on the conservation and management of sharks, inside and outside Community waters - which will outline the measures already in place, and will describe the additional measures needed to manage sharks in a comprehensive and coherent way.
The plan is likely to recommend the modification of a number of existing regulations and the adoption of several new ones, which could have an impact on recreational fishing for sharks across the EU.
EFTTA and the EAA (European Anglers Alliance) have submitted a joint response to the consultation.
While welcoming the proposal to increase efforts to deepen the knowledge on shark fisheries and on shark species and their role in the ecosystem, both organisations have stressed the need for the correct and accurate monitoring of recreational fishing in comparison to commercial fishing.
The response, submitted by EFTTA board member John Crudden and EAA secretary general, Jan Kappel, even suggests making some species of sharks 'recreational angling species only' as part of conservation or restoration plans.
It says: "Recreational angling for elasmobranchs (sharks) generates substantial economic output, but more detailed socio-economic studies for these and other fish species are needed. We are confident that some elasmobranchs can and should be made recreational angling species only as part of conservation or restoration plans, to the benefit of the fish stocks, recreational angling and its dependant business and local communities.
"We would like to stress that anglers do target many kinds of elasmobranchs but most are released. Only a few species are landed to be eaten.
“Recreational angling for elasmobranchs is common in most EU waters but shark angling - due to lack of species and abundance - is insignificant in the Baltic Sea, around Denmark, Netherlands and Belgium. In the UK and Ireland shark angling is a viable part of the recreational angling sector."
The Commission has identified nine fields of action that it believes need to be addressed in the Action Plan. Once adopted, the plan will be submitted to the Council and the European Parliament through a Communication explaining the background and the rationale for it.
EFTTA and the EAA have agreed with most of the nine points of action, but have stressed the need for the consultation to differentiate between commercial and recreational fishing, and also consider the different sub-sectors of recreational fishing.
Adds the response: "The various sub-sectors show great differences from a conservation point of view and with regard to their socio-economic contribution to society.
“Recreational angling (rod and line fishing) scores high on both accounts and is one of the most sustainable of fishing methods with, in most cases, the highest socio-economic output per fish compared with other sectors.
"In most or all European coastal states there are far more participants within recreational sea angling (8-10 million) than in any other recreational fishing sector. Indeed, due to the high number of participants anglers catch many fish but it shouldn’t be forgotten that a great deal of these fish are released back to the sea with a relatively low mortality rate.
“The fish mortality per capita is perceived as much lower for recreational angling than it is for most other forms of recreational fishing (and commercial fishing).
"We urge the Commission and Member States to identify and keep separate the various recreational fisheries sectors in their data collection, monitoring and management schemes. At least these sectors and fishing methods should be treated in their own right: Recreational angling/sportfishing, competition or tournament fishing, netting from boat, recreational long-line fishing, static nets, spear-fishing/diving and eventually ‘subsistence fishing’."
A copy of the full response from EFTTA and the EAA can be downloaded here.