Monday 05 February 2018
The huge socio-economic value of recreational fisheries in the EU and the need for the next Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to fully take this sector into consideration was once again at the heart of a debate in the European Parliament (EP) on the 25th of January. The event followed the publication of an EP report on ‘The state of play of recreational fisheries in the EU’ drafted by MEP Norica Nicolai, which was first presented to the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries in November 2017.
The conference, entitled “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” was co-chaired by the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Norica Nicolai, Werner Kuhn and Ole Christensen. It was organised with the objective of allowing an exchange of views between EU policy-makers and the recreational fisheries sector represented by the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) and the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA).
The conference was opened by MEP Alain Cadec, who underlined the significant importance of the recreational sector for the EU economy in terms of business and jobs for coastal areas. He also stated the importance of having a clear definition of recreational fisheries in order to include it into EU legislation in the most appropriate way. Representatives of the sector stressed that there are 8.7 million people fishing at sea recreationally and that the sector generates 100.000 jobs (FTE) and 10.5 billion EUR/year in Europe.
The lack of timely and comprehensive data on recreational fisheries remains one of the biggest issue for the sector. Indeed, data collection must be improved in order to have fair legislation and management. Up to now, the budget allocated to data collection on recreational fisheries is too little and the collection is often only initiated once a stock is endangered. The representatives of the sector urged the EU policy-makers to include recreational fisheries into the next CFP on an equal footing with the other fisheries sectors. This inclusion would be beneficial on the long term as it would contribute to the sustainable management of fish stocks from a social, economic and environmental point of view.
“A CFP without recreational fisheries is like having a Member State in the EU with no voting rights” said David Vertegaal, from Sportvisserij Nederland
The European Commission, represented by Evangelia Georgitsi from DG MARE, thanked MEP Norica Nicolai for bringing attention to this important issue and underlined that her report gives an accurate and useful diagnosis of the state of recreational fisheries in the EU while pointing out some of the most pressing challenges faced by the sector. She highlighted that, although the CFP mentions recreational fisheries only once, this sector is gaining more and more importance and attention from policy makers.
A lively debate followed the presentations where the speakers reiterated the significance of the sector. MEP Norica Nicolai, the rapporteur, concluded the event by stating that the CFP reflects an old vision of the economy and that the recreational sector could become one of the most important sustainable industries in the future. This is why it should not be forgotten by the EU institutions.
Modern meeting room for 18 people. Catering can be provided.