Protected areas

  • Lobby Projekte
Recreational Angling: not excluded by default from new protected areas to come

The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 sets the target of protecting 30% of EU land and sea by 2030[Ei1] . One third of this, areas of very high biodiversity and climate value, should be under “strict protection”. To help Member States achieve these targets and develop a coherent, transnational network, the Commission developed criteria and guidance for the identification and designation of additional protected areas.

Not many new protected areas are needed inland to reach the 30% target, but a lot of additional marine area needs protection before 2030. For both marine and inland the 10% “strictly protected“ areas target may be the most difficult one to achieve.     
Thanks to our intensive lobby efforts together with other stakeholders the final guidance to Member States does not suggest, as the first drafts did, that recreational angling is an extractive activity like mining, neither does it suggest  that recreational angling  always should be banned from the future “strictly protected areas”. Cutting from the guidance:

The condition that natural processes should be left essentially undisturbed by human pressures and threats means that many strictly protected areas will be nonintervention areas, where only limited and well-controlled activities that either do not interfere with natural processes or enhance them will be allowed. Such activities may, in many cases, include scientific research, natural disaster prevention (e.g. wildfires), invasive alien species control, non-intrusive activities and installations, non-intrusive and strictly controlled recreational activities, when such activities are compatible with the conservation objectives of the areas on the basis of a case-by-case assessment.“

From this statement it is now clear that recreational angling should not be excluded if it is assured that the activity is non-intrusive and compatible with the conservation targets of the specific protected area. The EU Commission have spoken warmly about ‘passive measures” with regards to marine protected areas. This translates to “no take area”, or “no access area”. However, we have avoided this to become the only way of managing strictly protected marine areas. But we need to make sure that this is well known to all EU Member States as the EU Commission still talks a lot about “passive measures”.

Furthermore, EFTTA has repeatedly stressed the fact that any protected area will attract poachers, who believe, for good reason, that fishing is better within than outside a protected area. Proper monitoring is costly. Most of the world’s existing marine protected areas lack sufficient monitoring. But the presence of some anglers in a protected area, with their smartphones and cameras, will serve as a cost-free deterrent.

EFTTA will continue fighting hard for anglers to be allowed to fish within all and any  area, which can sustain well managed recreational angling. That  is of utmost importance to us. If we fail, we will lose 10% or more of our fishing waters within the EU! This might not be a disaster for recreational sea angling, but it surely will do a lot of harm to freshwater recreational angling. The death of many local angling clubs is predictable should their fishing waters be deemed “no access”.

However, due to jointed and continued efforts of EFTTA & EAA we are quite hopeful about the additional protected and strictly protected areas to come. If it all works out the way we strive for, we will have, within and outside protected areas, better angling than ever before in Europe!


Protected areas