EU Parliament adopts provisions for recreational fisheries in proposal for a North Sea Multi-Annual Plan

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22 Sep

On the 14th of September, the European Parliament plenary adopted amendments to the European Commission’s proposal for a Multiannual plan for North Sea demersal fish stock.

The amended text will now be discussed in meetings with the European Commission and the European Council (the so-called ‘trilogues’ procedure). These meetings will start as soon as rapporteur Mrs Ulrike Rodust receives a mandate to represent the European Parliament from the Fisheries Committee. 

For the first time, the European Parliament has proposed to include recreational fisheries in a multiannual management plan. All amendments are listed here. Four amendments give explicit mentions to recreational fisheries (No. 13, 20, 34 and 66). Summarised, it is suggested that: 

● Recreational fisheries shall be monitored and the catch estimates included the stock assessments; 

● When a recreational fishery is proven to have ‘a significant negative impact on resources’ then “specific management measures” shall be taken, ‘in line with the principle of proportionality’; 

● “Fisheries” are defined as including both commercial and recreational fisheries (Amendment 20); 

● “Recreational fisheries” are defined as “non-commercial fishing activities exploiting marine living biological resources for recreation, tourism or sport.” (Amendment 34); 

The European Anglers’ Alliance welcomes the European Parliament’s explicit mentions of recreational fisheries. However, we would have preferred more clarity on certain points such as: 

● The important differences between commercial and recreational fishing with regard to fishing incentives and management are not taken duly into account. Commercial fishers are profit motivated. Recreational fishers are motivated by a multitude of things, but not profit. 

● A key component in EU management of commercial fisheries is quotas. Recreational fisheries worldwide are very rarely managed by quotas but other measures. 

● Socio-economics, ‘best use’ of a public resource fish: The socio-economics of recreational fisheries is not taken into account. Socio-economic information and data are needed to be able to decide and provide wise and sensible management of the exploitation of fish stocks 

There is no mention of recreational fisheries in the Commission’s proposed text or the Council’s general approach document. The final outcome of the trilogues is therefore very uncertain with regard to recreational fisheries. 

A new recital 14a (Amendment 13):
(14a) Recreational fisheries can have a significant impact on fish resources. Member States are to collect catch data of recreational fisheries, in accordance with legal requirements on data collection. Where such fisheries have a significant negative impact on resources, the plan should provide for the possibility to decide on specific management measures in line with the principle of proportionality. Any management and technical measures concerning recreational fisheries at Union level should be proportionate to the objectives aimed for. 

Recreational fisheries in Article 1 (Amendment 20):

1. This Regulation establishes a multi-annual plan ("plan") for the demersal stocks in waters of Union waters of ICES zones IIa, IIIa and IV ("North Sea" refers to those three zones ) and the fisheries, including recreational fisheries, exploiting those stocks.
A recreational fisheries definition added to other definitions in Article 2 (Amendment 34):
(10a) “Recreational fisheries” means non-commercial fishing activities exploiting marine living biological resources for recreation, tourism or sport. 

A new article 10a (Amendment 66):
Impact of recreational fisheries
1. All available data on catches by recreational fisheries shall be examined in order to assess their likely impact on the stocks of regulated species.
2. The Council shall consider the assessment provided for in the first paragraph. For those stocks for which recreational catches are considered to be significant, the Council shall, when setting fishing opportunities, take account of recreational catches by, inter alia:
(a) considering the sum of estimates of catches by recreational fisheries, derived from the best available scientific advice, and the best available scientific advice on commercial fishing opportunities as total catch which corresponds to the target fishing mortality;
(b) imposing restrictions on recreational fisheries, including daily bag limits and closed seasons; or
(c) other means which are deemed appropriate.

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