Recreational anglers urge the EU to step up support for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures

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08 Sep

Climate change has both direct and indirect impacts on the aquatic environment and the European recreational fisheries sector: shifts in fish stocks distributions, extreme weather events, changes in river stream, increasing water temperature, etc. The sector is particularly active in projects to help mitigate those impacts but adequate EU policy, funding and research are crucial to help the sector to adapt.

Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in November 2021 in Glasgow, MEP Niclas Herbst (Germany, EPP Group), Chair of the Forum, and MEP Franc Bogovič (Slovenia, EPP Group) co-chaired on 7 September the European Parliament Forum on Recreational Fisheries and Aquatic Environment webinar addressing the impacts of climate change on the recreational fisheries sector.
MEP Franc Bogovič recalled that climate change has been identified as one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. He explained that the problem is not only the increase of average temperatures but also the extreme highs and lows of temperatures in different seasons, even during a very short period of time, that can have dramatic effects on the environment. Furthermore, he highlighted “the need to find win-win solutions that involve protecting, restoring and sustainably managing ecosystems to build resilience”.
MEP Niclas Herbst stressed the importance to look at the impact of climate change on recreational fisheries. “It is essential to understand how it affects our marine and freshwater ecosystems and how to best prepare the sectors that depend on it, such as the recreational fisheries”, he said.
Three panellists took the floor to discuss the various impacts of climate change on the aquatic environment and on the recreational fisheries sector. Regarding the freshwater environment, Marijan Govedič, Director of the Centre for Cartography of Fauna and Flora (Slovenia), insisted on the need to consider both the visible (water regimes and temperature) and invisible changes on rivers (in the interstitial and riparian zones) which affect the natural resilience of ecosystems. Adding to that, Igor Miličić, Secretary General of the Fishing Association of Slovenia, described the negative impact of climate change on fly fishing tourism in Slovenia and the uncertainty it creates, as well as mitigation activities in which anglers can be involved such as restoring riparian growth.
Regarding the marine environment, David Mitchell, Chair of the European Anglers Alliance’ Sea Subgroup, drew attention to some challenges and opportunities, focusing on the North Sea and shifting fish stocks distribution. He argued that further research into the impacts of climate change on fisheries and dependent communities should be funded by the EU and that the recreational fisheries sector needs recognition from the EU given its economic importance and potential jobs at stake when it comes to climate adaptation.

In addition, Olivier Portrat, CEO of the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA), called on the EU and Member States to support anglers’ and angling clubs’ habitat restoration projects as well as projects linking restoration or restocking activities and angling tourism. Nevertheless, those efforts may be pointless if there is no understanding of such phenomenon, including at the EU level, notes Olivier Portrat. “By better understanding climate change impact, we will take better policy decisions”, he argued.
In conclusion, MEP Niclas Herbst finished the event by an important statement: "We know that anglers are a big part of the solution. Who else could do it if not the recreational fisheries sector?"

Download the press release here

EAA also recently adopted its position paper on climate change. It can be downloaded here

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