On 21 February, the Commission published a number of EU fisheries documents. One of particular interest for EFTTA is the report “The common fisheries policy today and tomorrow: a Fisheries and Oceans Pact towards sustainable, science-based, innovative and inclusive fisheries management“, which reviews the CFP from 2009 to 2022.
1/ CFP reform postponed to the next legislative term
For two decades EFTTA has pushed the EU to include recreational fisheries in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), on an equal footing with commercial fisheries and aquaculture. Until now, the only reference to recreational fishing in the current CFP is still a single clause: “Recreational fisheries can have a significant impact on fish resources and Member States should, therefore, ensure that they are conducted in a manner that is compatible with the objectives of the CFP.”
EFTTA had high hopes that this year - ten years after the latest CFP reform (!) – recreational angling would finally be included in the CFP. To our regret we have now been informed that the CFP reform process won’t start up before the second half next year at the earliest, after the European elections. A CFP reform could stretch over several years before being finally adopted. EFTTA is, of course, ready to engage in the process.
Fortunately, there are also several positive signs that recreational fisheries will soon be better treated by the EU legislation.
2/ Draft proposal: Recreational Anglers shall be licensed or registered to provide reliable data
Changes to the EU’s fisheries control regulation are pending and might be adopted later this year already. The proposal is that all recreational anglers shall be licensed or at least registered to provide more and better data on recreational fisheries. EFTTA, together with the European Anglers Alliance (EAA), has lobbied the control regulation a lot and with good result. Instead of the original draft that suggested that all recreational anglers should be licensed, the current draft follows the proposal pushed by EFTTA and EAA, stating that Member States can choose between licensing or simple registration. If this new registration procedure is adopted more and better recreational fisheries figures will be available, which is very important for the success of our lobbying work to improve legislation on recreational angling at EU level. It will also serve as a valuable source of information for EFTTA members.
3/ EC recognizes positive impacts of Recreational Angling
Further to the resolution from the European Parliament of 3 May 2022, promoting the positive impacts of recreational angling towards a sustainable Blue Economy, we are pleased to find this statement confirmed in a staff document accompanying the Commission’s CFP review (see link below) issued on 21 February 2023. Among other things, it is said that:
“Under the CFP, specifically under the sustainable blue economy and fisheries management, the EU recognises the role of recreational fishers in promoting the prosperity of (coastal) communities across Europe. In addition to being a leisure activity, recreational fishing serves the cultural ecosystems with individual benefits of and by recreational fishers’ spending.“
4/ Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): EC recognizes improved environmental sustainability through well-managed Recreational Angling
Other encouraging signals can be found in another EU Commission document also published 21 February, the “EU Action Plan: Protecting and restoring marine ecosystems for sustainable and resilient fisheries”:
- “Improved environmental sustainability, for example through effectively managed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), can provide additional or alternative livelihoods for local fishing communities, such as nature tourism and well-managed recreational fishing.”
This statement repeats exactly EFTTA’s message, saying that well-managed (!) recreational angling is good for society and not a threat to MPAs. Quite the contrary, EFTTA argues that there are no better „watchdogs“ than anglers who love their fishing grounds. In addition, with their smartphones/cameras they function as a deterrent for poachers.
That’s all very promising, proving that both the European Parliament and the EU Commission start realizing that recreational angling contributes to a long-term sustainable environment! Above all, it also proves that EFTTA is on the right track and must carry on!