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 EU 2018 budget a recreational sea bass pilot project, 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 in December 2020 the final report on the “Control scheme for recreational catches of sea bass.” 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 more control and monitoring in the recreational fisheries sector. In light of this extensive research, the pilot project then proposed recommendations and guidelines to improve control schemes for recreational fisheries in the European Union. Against the background of the current revision of the Fisheries Control Regulation, we hope 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 but also on surveys with recreational fishermen, the pilot project developed a recommended control scheme with the following features:
  • Focus on resource conservation and better engagement of fishermen (rather than just enforcement);
  • Compulsory registration and reporting of standardised data sets;
  • More reliable data and improved stock assessment modelling capacity to support scientific advice legitimacy and provide more guidance for decision-makers;
  • Better targeted and streamlined control and inspection activities using catch declarations; and
  • Improved information exchange.

Following the recommendations stemming from the research, the pilot project then developed the RecFishing.eu platform for fisher registration and catch reporting. The platform is now fully operational since October 2020, for both fishermen and administrations. The platform acts as a European common database to centralise data from national applications, based on a standard set for reporting 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.

Related news:
EU pilot project on recreational fisheries control finally underway (6 March 2020)
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