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Changes to EU Common Fisheries Policy May Affect Recreational Anglers

By Sue Richards last modified Jan 30, 2009 02:27 PM

Published: 2009-01-30 14:27:48
Topics: European Union

British sailors and sea anglers are working together to oppose changes to EU law which could have a big impact on how recreational fishing is carried out within the European Union.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is an EU policy designed to make EU fishing grounds a common resource by giving access to all member states. In theory this access is supposed to be equal, but in practice it is not: the EU manages access to fishing waters and determines how many fish a national fleet can catch.

The stated aim of the CFP is to help conserve fish stocks. However this has been widely criticised by those who see the CFP as a wasteful policy that damages the environment and the fishing industry. Employment in the fishing industry has declined dramatically, particularly in the UK, and fish stocks continue to fall despite recent reforms.

In September 2008, the European Commission announced a full review of the CFP saying the current regime has failed to protect fish stocks.

According to reports in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, the EU is proposing to extend the CFP to include recreational anglers. Sporting fishermen, who go out in small boats or fish from piers (and indeed yachtsmen who fish from their own boat), would be required to purchase licences and to log every fish.

At present, while they keep the odd fish for personal consumption, most sea anglers return their catches to the water. In some cases, they tag them first, contributing to conservation programmes. If the European Commission succeeds, they will be forced to land every tiddler they catch, and to count their quota against the national one.

Recreational sea anglers account for perhaps one per cent of the total catch that remains.

Many cruising yachtsmen enjoy trailing a line from the back of their boat whilst on passage, and indeed a freshly caught fry up can’t be beaten. Will this new law put an end to all of that?

British sea anglers have started an online petition against the proposal - see here - and already almost 2,000 have pledged against this proposal.

Daily Telegraph Article