Lessons learned from the sea bass pilot project

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06 Apr

In 2017, the European Parliament adopted a proposal to include in the 2018 EU budget a pilot project on the recreational fishing for sea bass, which would “provide the EU legislator with more options for the management and control of recreational fisheries.” The proposal was fully supported by the European Anglers Alliance, which advocates for a better management of the emblematic specie that is the European sea bass, but also for more data collection on the recreational fisheries sector.

After twelve months, the pilot project, led by the French company Halieuticom, reached its natural conclusion and the Commission published the final report on the “Control scheme for recreational catches of sea bass” in December 2020. The pilot project compared the current control and monitoring measures and tools available in and outside Europe, identified their strengths and weaknesses, and explored best practices for better control and monitoring of the recreational fisheries sector.

In light of this extensive research, the pilot project then proposed recommendations and guidelines to improve control schemes for marine recreational fisheries in the European Union. Against the background of the current revision of the Fisheries Control Regulation, the European Anglers Alliance hopes that this report will be able to inform the decisions of the co-legislators, even though it arrives at such a late stage.

Based on the analysis of the current schemes and on surveys of recreational fishers and other stakeholders, the pilot project provided recommendations to improve the efficiency of the monitoring and control scheme for marine recreational fisheries. The following guiding ideas are underlined by the report:
  • A focus on resource conservation and better engagement of recreational fishers;
  • Compulsory registration and reporting (in time) of standardised data sets. Registration and catch reporting using near real time web and app-based solutions;
  • More reliable data and improved stock assessment modelling capacity supports scientific advice legitimacy towards recreational fishers;
  • Better targeted and streamlined control and inspection activities using catch declarations;
  • Improved information exchange and the set-up of new information flows back to users (studies, stock status, local control measures, etc.).

The pilot project developed, tested and deployed the RecFishing.eu platform for recreational fisher registration and catch reporting. The platform is now fully operational since October 2020, for both recreational fishers and administrations. The platform acts as a European common database to centralise data from national applications, based on a standard set for the reporting of catches and fishing sessions. The interest of anglers from the very first steps of the programme allowed for the platform to be successful, but it is still too early to see the first concrete results.


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