On the 11th of June, the European Commission published the “EU Blue Economy Report 2020” which gives an overview of the economic performance of different economic sectors related to the oceans and the maritime environment, such as fisheries and aquaculture as well as maritime and coastal tourism.
The document recognises the huge contribution that the blue economy can provide to the EU economy and the role it can play in the green recovery. Welcoming the report, Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, pointed out that maritime tourism “will help us come out of this crisis stronger, healthier, more resilient and more sustainable.” Unfortunately, the report does not appear to consider recreational fisheries as a distinct part of the blue economy and thus it does not fully grasp the key role that recreational angling tourism can play in that regard.
Recreational angling tourism encompasses the trips of thousands of anglers both within and outside their country. During their travels and their visits, anglers look for different landscapes and more diverse catching opportunities. They also directly contribute to the local economy of the regions they visit by buying and renting equipment, spending in hotels and restaurants and utilising the services provided by fishing guides and charter boats. Therefore, angling tourism has an essential role to play in supporting remote, coastal and touristic areas to recover from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The importance of recreational angling tourism has been recognised by various countries. For instance, the 2030 Maritime Strategy of Catalonia, quoted in the Commission’s own report, rightly identifies recreational fishing as an activity commonly practiced all year round, which creates a relevant and sustainable economic activity. It is estimated that the sector has provided a turnover of €89 million in 2016.
Going forward, the EU should recognise recreational fisheries as well as recreational angling tourism as key components of the blue economy and should acknowledge the decisive role that they can play to boost the continent’s economic recovery. It is also worth noting that angling perfectly suits the context post-coronavirus as it can already be practiced by respecting social distancing, it relieves stress and helps to improve both mental and physical health.