Two Advisory Councils recognise the positive socioeconomic impact of recreational fisheries and call for a level playing field

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13 Feb

On 21 December 2023, the North Sea Advisory Council (NSAC) and the Northwestern Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) adopted a joint advice to the European Commission and the Member States on recreational fishing. The advice constitutes the outcome of lengthy work to which EAA contributed substantially.






The advisory councils are stakeholder-led organisations officially created by the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), that provide the Commission and the EU countries with recommendations on fisheries management matters. They are composed of representatives from the industry and from other interest groups. The European Anglers Alliance (EAA) has been an active member of several advisory councils, including the NSAC and the NWWAC.
 
This advice, adopted against the background of the final adoption of the revised fisheries control rules, provides very relevant and crucial recommendations concerning the regulation and management of recreational fisheries. It identifies gaps and shortcomings in the current fisheries legislation. It also brings more focus on the social and economic impact of recreational fishing. It provides structured recommendations for a better understanding of the issues at stake, which require greater regulation and a level playing field.
 
Several recommendations are fully in line with what the EAA has been calling for. The NSAC and NWWAC ask for:
 
1.The full inclusion and consideration of recreational fisheries in the revised CFP, thereby reflecting its current and future significance within the EU. The inclusion of recreational fisheries, which would create a level-playing field and generate opportunities for the coastal and remote communities, should not only underline their impact on fish resources but also their contributions to the economy, individuals, and society at large.
 
2. A clear definition of recreational fisheries and distinctions made between its different segments (rod-and-line, spear, pots, nets…), which is necessary to ensure an unambiguous understanding of the role and implications of each segment and this growing sector as a whole, as well as to provide legal certainty as to what it entails and what implications it may have for the commercial sector and wider.
 
3.The development and collection of consistent and robust data on the motivations and behaviours of recreational fishers, including tourist fishers, as well as consistent data on the social and economic contribution of recreational fishing across EU borders. The European Commission is bound to provide an answer to this joint advice.
 
4.Communication on societal services of recreational fishers to stimulate public discussions about the activities of anglers in aquatic environments, to foster a sense of responsibility for natural resources and the aquatic environment as such.
 
5.The recognition and emphasis placed on the value of recreational fishing in terms of the human wellbeing and health.
 
6.The recognition and enhancement of the self-consumption of catches from recreational fishing as a contribution to the food sovereignty of Europeans.
 
This joint NWWAC/NSAC advice follows a White Paper from the Baltic Sea Advisory Council, which already in 2022 had called for the inclusion of recreational fisheries in the CFP. In 2022, the Mediterranean Advisory Council also called for recreational fisheries to be better defined and for better socio-economic data to be gathered.
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