Recreational fisheries discriminated against by the European Parliament in the Western Mediterranean management plan

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14 Jan

On the 10th of January 2019, the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries voted on MEP Clara Aguilera Garcia’s report on the Commission’s proposal for a multi-annual plan for the fisheries exploiting demersal stocks in the western Mediterranean Sea. The EAA and the EFTTA are very disappointed with many of the adopted amendments to the Commission’s proposed text, in particular those discriminating against recreational fishing.

The fish stocks in the Mediterranean Sea are in dire straits. The Commission informs that 93% of the assessed fish stocks are overexploited and several of them could collapse1. The adopted amendments water down the Commission’s proposal. If these amendments are adopted by the Council and the Commission it will be impossible to fix overexploitation by 2020, and many stocks will be exposed to total collapse. 

Some of the adopted amendments are very hostile towards the recreational fisheries sector like Amendment 82: “As recreational fisheries can have a significant impact on fish resources, the multiannual plan should provide a framework to ensure that they are conducted in a manner compatible with the objectives of that plan. Member States should collect catch data of recreational fisheries. Where such fisheries have a significant impact on those resources, the plan should provide for the possibility to decide on specific management measures which do not harm the professional fisheries sector.”

According to the EAA and the EFTTA, the underlined words are not necessary and makes little sense from a legal point of view. The wording alludes to a situation where commercial fisheries is ‘the owner of the fish stocks’ and recreational fisheries ‘a residue activity’, which effectively always are deemed to suffer disproportionally from overfishing. This is not acceptable. The recreational fisheries sector should not be punished disproportionally, or at all, for overfishing caused by the commercial fisheries sector, which is the main responsible for the current overexploitation of the Mediterranean Sea.

Recreational fisheries is a high-value low impact activity, which delivers substantial economic benefits and jobs to the Mediterranean coastal communities. A study conducted by the Spanish Ministry for Fisheries and Agriculture (MAPA) already in 20033 states that “The expense generated by recreational fishing in the Spanish Mediterranean, significantly exceeds the value added generated by professional fishing. Sport fishing represents between 550 and 650 million € per year compared to 380 million € representing professional fishing." 

Another study2 from 2017, ordered by the European Parliament4, concludes that: "Total economic impact of marine recreational fishing amounts to 10.5 billion euro, supporting almost 100,000 jobs." This huge economic impact and many jobs are put in peril by the adopted amendments. 

The EAA and the EFTTA now call on the Commission and the Council to not accept these amendments adopted by the Parliament’s Fisheries Committee. We also take this opportunity to encourage the Council, the Commission as well as the Parliament to prepare for inclusion of recreational fisheries in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) on an equal footing with the other sectors, commercial fisheries and aquaculture, to avoid such kind of discrimination in the future. 



2. Report as amended by the Fisheries Committee

4. “Research for PECH Committee - Marine recreational and semi-subsistence fishing - its value and its impact on fish stocks” (2017), Kieran Hyder et al. 

Further references:
● The Commission’s legislative proposal, COM(2018) 115 of 8 March 2018
Press release by the Committee on Fisheries, 10 January 2019
Procedure file “Multi-annual plan for the fisheries exploiting demersal stocks in the western Mediterranean Sea”

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