On 30 November, a European Parliament Forum on Recreational Fisheries and Aquatic Environment event co-Chaired by MEP Niclas Herbst and MEP Soraya Rodriguez Ramos brought light on the diverse initiatives carried out by the Recreational Fisheries sector, considering the upcoming discussions on the Nature Restoration Law (NRL).
The NRL aims at translating the declarative EU
Biodiversity Strategy targets into compulsory objectives for the EU member
states’ authorities. MEP Niclas Herbst, Chair of the EP RecFishing Forum, noted that “anglers are
essential not only to monitor fish populations but also to maintain
biodiversity. The best thing we can do as decision-makers is to help them in
their fight against biodiversity loss and urging Member States to reduce river
fragmentation. Otherwise, the objectives of the Biodiversity Strategy won’t be
achieved”. Indeed, the EU recreational fisheries sector
supports the inclusion of more ambitious goals for the protection and
restoration of rivers and marine ecosystems.
"Angling is more than just catching
and killing fish, it’s also about taking responsibility for ensuring that there
are fish for future generations. That's why we restore rivers, remove obstacles
and plant eelgrass in marine environments. Anglers also massively collect wastes
[...] 12,000 kilos were collected by angling clubs in Germany in just one year.
said Kaare Manniche
Ebert, Fisheries Biologist at the Danish Sportfishing Association and
member of the European
Anglers Alliance (EAA). The involvement of younger generations in these habitats’
restoration projects is furthermore key for the future of aquatic ecosystems.
The fishing tackle sector is also
committed to the very same objective: “Without fish, there is no business. Therefore,
it is only natural that our companies commit to nature restoration projects”
said Oliver Portrat, CEO of the European Fishing Tackle Trade
Association (EFTTA). Ross Honey, Managing Director, Angling Spirit
(EFTTA) also recalled the efforts that the Manufacturers and Wholesalers of
fishing equipment are doing to reduce the use of plastics and chemicals in
The NRL will define protected and
strictly protected areas, in which human presence will be restricted. However,
anglers should be encouraged to be on the ground and help authorities
protecting aquatic biodiversity. The new obligations that will be introduced by
the law will oblige the EU Member States to engage in habitats recovery
projects, but the voluntary work carried out by anglers
represents massive costs that Member States would have to cover if they
prevented them from accessing protected areas. In addition, Professor Robert Britton from Bournemouth University (UK)
underlined the usefulness of recreational fishers in the conservation of marine
species. Anglers have been crucial in alerting scientists and authorities since
decades about the status of fish species through citizen science.
Bettina Doeser, representative from the European Commission
in charge of the Nature Restoration Law appreciated how recreational fishermen
understood the essence of the Commission’s proposal, which is not only to
protect biodiversity but also to create the conditions for its restoration.
“It was proven that voluntary targets
for nature restoration are not enough […]. We need to act now! EU maritime environment and freshwater
ecosystems are in a degraded state. […] Many fish cannot find place to
reproduce, especially when dams block their migratory routes, for instance.”
MEP Soraya Rodriguez Ramos, shadow
rapporteur for Renew Europe in the Committee on Environment concluded.
Nature Restoration Law proposal will be discussed in the European Parliament
and the European Council of Member States for several months. The recreational
fisheries sector will continue working in Brussels with the MEPs and some
allies such as the Living
Rivers Europe coalition to include much needed
measures for the protection of fish and their environment.
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