Yesterday, the Angling Trust, UK member of the EAA, published its formal response to the government’s Benyon Review on the establishment of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), which controversially proposes a blanket ban on recreational sea angling in these areas.
EAA’s President, Fred Bloot said: “EAA strongly supports our UK member, Angling Trust’s comprehensive and well-documented response to the Benyon Review. We hope their response will be read by many people, not the least advisers and decision makers involved with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). There is no doubt, that our troubled seas need a helping hand. But to give the impression, as the Review does, that the impact by rod and line fishing is comparable with extractive, commercial exploitation such as dredging, trawling and drilling, is to misguide our decision makers and the public, to put it mildly. The Angling Trust wanted to be on the panel, which produced the Review, but their request was denied. Now we see the result. The Review receives justified critics for being biased, which could have been avoided if Angling Trust had been on the panel.”
It is easy to designate a marine protected area. The difficult, and costly, part is to make it work and deliver as intended.
Quote from the Benyon Review:
“To create a robust monitoring and data collection framework within HPMAs, government will need to make available significant resources proportional to the HPMA’s size. Funding requirements are likely to be higher than those directed to existing MPAs.
Mr Bloot said:
“Recreational angling is not the problem, but part of the solution, as stressed in the Angling Trust’s response:
“..anglers are often involved with scientific fish tagging projects, such as bass, tuna and elasmobranchs, which couldn’t be conducted without angling volunteers due to the cost implications. The presence of anglers in HPMAs and other MPAs are of importance for monitoring and data collection, which are big cost obstacles according to the Benyon Review."
To make designation easy and to save cost, we see damaging practises still allowed in many ‘protected’ areas. A team of scientists have investigated 727 MPAs designated by the European Union. They found that 59% of MPAs are commercially trawled, and average trawling intensity across MPAs was at least 1.4-fold higher as compared with nonprotected areas: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6421/1403
“That study shows clearly, that many existing MPAs can and should be improved. However, improvements should be tailormade, not become blunt ban of activities, like angling, which have little to no negative impact on the area. The Angling Trust’s response, and the EAA’s own MPA position paper, give a number of examples why well-managed angling is a good thing in most marine protected areas. Some MPAs are even dedicated to recreational angling alone!” Mr Bloot said.