Supporting EFTTA is essential to safeguard the future of angling in Europe by EFTTA-CEO Olivier Portrat

EFTTA-CEO Olivier Portrat

EFTTA has about 270 members out of an industry with about 2,000 companies living from recreational angling in Europe. EFTTA work benefits EFTTA members, as well as those companies, which are not members. It would be fairer if all companies supported EFTTA’s work. This would make us financially stronger and able to do more, and more efficiently. Some goodwill towards EFTTA is not enough. We need the support of all the industry behind EFTTA, to the benefit of our industry and recreational angling at large.

Supporting EFTTA is more important than ever. Threats arrive at an increasing pace. For example, last year the EU started a war against plastic litter in the environment, which is a good thing and EFTTA supports. But there are some caveats like the ‘Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)’, which could hit the tackle producers hard, and disproportionally in comparison with other industries.

Among all the regulations and laws that are constantly being elaborated by the European Union (EU) some have the potential to heavily affect negatively the future of recreational angling. To avoid disaster from what is happening it is crucial that harmful proposals are identified and addressed as early as possible before they become law. That is what EFTTA does for you.

EFTTA has better access to the European decision-makers than you have when it comes to the development of new policies and laws. All stakeholders have the chance to be heard. However, individual EU-citizens do not enjoy the same kind of possibilities for being heard or to meet with EU officials in person. That would suffocate the functioning of the institutions. This is why you need EFTTA. EFTTA and EAA (European Anglers Alliance) run together an office in Brussels. From here you can walk to the European Parliament, the EU Commission or the EU Council in a few minutes.


It is quite difficult to modify an EU law when first it is adopted. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that EFTTA follows and reacts at the earliest stage of the lawmaking process. To be able to do so, we seek and keep an eye on new policy and legislative proposals, which could impact EFTTA members’ businesses or recreational angling negatively, or positively. We are in direct contact with the EU Commission, the EU Council and have hired AlienorEU, a very efficient lobbying consulting company, to help us lobby the members of the European Parliament. AlienorEU meet with MEPs and also arrange events at the European Parliament within the forum established by EFTTA and EAA some years ago ‘the Forum on Recreational Fisheries and Aquatic Environment’.

Lobby work is very time- and resource demanding. We are supposed to hold and to bring all relevant information about our industry and the angling community at large to the decision-makers’ tables. Much relevant data (product statistics, total turnover, catches) is scarce or non-existent. Therefore, one of EFTTA’s top-priorities is to find and secure the funding for an every-five-years pan-European recreational angling socio-economic study. That study would provide more figures. And, equally important, such a recurring study would provide the basis for trend statistics/analyses, which don’t exist today for most angling issues.

Some examples from our lobby work

Ten years ago we secured the European Parliament’s support for a pan-European cormorant management plan. However, a number of EU Member States still block such a plan being put in place. We continue to push that issue. However, our cormorant lobbying efforts over many years have increased the awareness and understanding of the scale of the problem. We now see positive cormorant measures in place, or to be put in place soon in some EU Member States. That would not have happened without our continued efforts. Together, EFTTA and EAA arguably is the most knowledgeable entity on cormorant issues in Europe, and in close contact with external fisheries-cormorant experts and scientists.

Sea bass
In recent years we have drawn the attention of the EU and the member states to the overfished sea bass. We managed to augment the minimum size of Atlantic sea bass to be increased from 36 cm to 42 cm, allowing more of these fish to spawn at least once before being harvested. Our efforts made the EU Commission introduce emergency measures in 2015 to reduce the excessive amounts of sea bass catches. In that regard, recreational angling had a daily bag limit imposed which since has varied from one year to another. In 2018 it was decided to only allow catch & release of these fish, while some commercial fishers were allowed to continue harvesting sea bass at the same scale as before. This was, of course, not acceptable to EFTTA. After much work EFTTA and EAA managed to have the rule changed to allow anglers to take home some bass in some months. As part of these lobby efforts EFTTA together with the EAA opened a case with the European Court of Justice. We dismissed the case when the legislation was changed to again allow for recreational anglers to bring home some bass in some months.

EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)
For the moment we are fighting to be recognized on an equal footing with commercial fishing and aquaculture in the next CFP reform. The CFP will be evaluated in 2022, but discussions are already taking place in various stakeholder fora followed by EFTTA. At present we are also fighting a pending revision of the EU’s fisheries control regulation, in which, among other things, it is suggested that recreational gear shall be marked, and all recreational boats registered and tracked.

Closed fish farming systems
We fight also for a change to closed containment fish farming systems. The open net-pen systems are causing spread of sea lice to wild fish, water pollution and millions of escaped fish, which mix with and genetically pollute the wild fish.

Hydropower and dams
Hydropower installations are devastating for the rivers and the life in and around them. Hydropower is often sold as ‘green energy’ but there is absolutely nothing ‘green’ about it (see our film “The End of the River” available on In conjunction with our fight against hydropower we are also fighting for refurbishment or removal of the hundreds of thousands of damaged or unnecessary dams and other obstacles in Europe’s rivers. Fish passes are now made obligatory by law (the Water Framework Directive), but only a few of them are doing what one would expect them to do for fish migration.

The socio-economic value of recreational angling
An important part of our work is to promote the socio-economic value of recreational angling, in order that this aspect of our favourite activity is not being overseen by fisheries policies, management and legislation. It is remarkable, how shockingly little our decision-makers know about the scale of recreational angling in numbers of participants and Euros.

Animal (fish) welfare
EFTTA promotes good handling of fish. We also keep an eye on all the animal-activists that want recreational angling to be banned. They argue, without unanimous scientific evidence, that fish can feel pain and that it is unethical to catch & release them (Germany & Switzerland). Where will this occur next?

Invasive Alien Species (IAS)
We follow closely the development of EU’s IAS legislation, and the national implementation of it, which is sometimes applied in an unjustified and excessive way with regard to fish (eg Spain).

Plastic litter
The Directive “on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment” (2019)
EFTTA welcomes this directive as we are aware that the global pollution with plastic has to come to a halt. Despite that, we are very much aware that this will affect us a lot during the years to come. Plastics are defined as polymers to which additives or other substances may have been added. That includes most fishing lines, hard baits and soft baits.

EFTTA members have a great interest in the chemicals legislation (REACH), which, among other things, comprises rules on lead and plasticizers. The rules are under scrutiny and are being updated frequently. EFTTA monitors consultations and proposed rule changes, and acts when needed.

A world without EFTTA would be a world with a poor defense for the industry

Without EFTTA and EAA, there would not be a persistent, knowledgeable force to defend the tackle trade interests and recreational angling at the EU level.

By the way, here much has been said about EU but you should know we are also lobbying other international organizations and institutions e.g. the UN and some of its agencies (FAO, GFCM…).

EFTTA is a non-profit organization that is financially supported by the profits of the biggest fishing-tackle trade show of Europe, EFTTEX. EFTTEX provides an excellent platform for exhibitors and retailers/visitors to network and to forge business relationships, with the main goal of sustaining and expanding the European fishing tackle industry. All profits of EFTTEX are used to make the work of EFTTA possible, to have the best possible future of recreational angling in Europe. First-time EFTTA full members can also benefit from a special discount for exhibiting at the EFTTEX.

So why not join the EFTTA now? Please do!
Your contribution will be used wisely to finance forums in the EU, to have access to important data, for the appointment of credible experts, for meetings with MEPs and EU Commission officials, and to argue our case. The future of your business also depends on the quality of the work of EFTTA – your support of EFTTA is a support to your company …

I’m looking forward to your membership!

Very best wishes,

Olivier Portrat (EFTTA-CEO)

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