EVENT REPORT - Objective 30%: why involving recreational anglers is key for the success of Marine Protected Areas

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11 May

On 20 April, the RecFishing Forum hosted a webinar on recreational angling and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), co-chaired by MEP Isabel Carvalhais and MEP Søren Gade. Panellists and more than 60 participants discussed the positive impacts of recreational anglers in marine protected and strictly protected areas and the roll-out of the Biodiversity Strategy in view of legally protecting 30% of the EU's sea area.

Oliver Portrat, CEO of the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) and David Vertegaal, Marine Public Affairs Officer representing the European Anglers Alliance (EAA), recalled the role that the recreational fisheries sector can play as a vector of acceptance by local communities and a source of economic benefits. They also called for an ecology optimised approach of recreational fishing activities in MPAs: “Do not forget that recreational fishing, and in particular recreational angling, is a very selective fishing activity. It would be ineffective to put all kinds of fishing gears, all kinds of ‘extractive’ activities on the same level and simply ban angling from these areas.” Anglers can and want to play a role in the protection of MPAs and are more than happy to be managed and controlled, through bag limits, closed fishing seasons and strict minimum sizes to contribute to the recovery of important ocean habitats and species.

Click here to download the event report

Some highlights:

“Recreational fishermen are a powerful group of stakeholders who support and contribute to conservation objectives and to a sustainable economic development, including by raising awareness about nature and oceans. Many recreational anglers are involved in the conservation of aquatic species and the habitats they depend upon.” - Minister Ricardo Serrão Santos

“Responsible angling practices and the engagement of society in conservation initiatives benefit local communities by attracting economic activity, generating positive spill-overs throughout many sectors.” - Minister Ricardo Serrão Santos

“Everyone has to be involved in MPAs management, ideally to create a shared sense of appropriation of MPAs as a higher common good. One that is worth collective efforts.” - MEP Isabel Carvalhais

“Recreational fishers often are the only eyes and ears within MPAs and can contribute, throughout their activities, to the MPAs’ objectives.” - MEP Søren Gade

“Good MPA planning fosters dialogue between diverse users and stakeholders of marine spaces.” - Odran Corcoran (WWF)

“From the age of 4, I was part of daily summer fishing adventures. The great catches triggered my fantasy quite early. In my childish mind, epic battles between these massive predators and their preys took place in the depths, unseen from human eyes.” - Olivier Portrat (EFTTA)

“The bigger the conservation area is, the more important is the acceptance by locals. The local population should take ownership of the conservation area and, if possible, they should be active in its creation.” - Olivier Portrat (EFTTA)

“Our goal is not to exclude recreational angling from MPAs, but rather to identify within MPAs a subset of zones in which extractive activities would be excluded.” - Nicola Notaro (DG ENV)

“The protection of biodiversity is more than just a desirable goal, it is an urgent necessity. Actions must be as much daring as feasible. All sectors must be involved, especially recreational fisheries.” - MEP Isabel Carvalhais 

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