The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)
The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) sets rules for managing European fishing fleets and for conserving fish stocks. It aims to ensure that fishing and aquaculture are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable and that they provide a source of healthy food for EU citizens.
The CFP was first introduced in the 1970s and went through successive updates, the most recent
of which took effect on 1 January 2014.
The CFP regulation, which is the overarching EU legislation on fisheries, refers only once to recreational fisheries: “Recreational fisheries can have a significant impact on fish resources and Member States should, therefore, ensure that they are conducted in a manner that is compatible with the objectives of the CFP.” Other EU fisheries legislations adopted in the recent years tend to progressively include recreational fisheries.
Read more about recreational fisheries and the EU legislation here
Parliamentary question on recreational fishing and CFP
In November 2015, MEP Richard Corbett (UK, S&D) raised the following question to the Commission:
“Given that recreational fishing is now included in the common fisheries policy through both the control regulations and the TAC/quota regulations (specifically through the new minimum conservation reference sizes and the bag limit for sea bass), does the Commission therefore believe that the scope of Article 17 of the common fisheries policy should extend to recreational fishing?”
Article 17 refers to the criteria for the allocation of fishing opportunities by Member States.
The Commission responded the following:
“Article 1(1)(a) of the Basic Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 on the common fisheries policy (CFP) does not specifically make mention of recreational fishing, but rather of the conservation of marine biological resources and the management of fisheries and fleets exploiting such resources. This allows, in principle, for conservation and management measures to be adopted under the CFP, which may also affect recreational fisheries. Recital 3 of the Basic Regulation does indicate that recreational fisheries can have a significant impact on fish resources, and that Member States should, therefore, ensure that they are conducted in a manner that is compatible with the objectives of the CFP. This is also consistent with the contents of Recital 27 and with the provisions of Article 55 of Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 establishing a Community control system.
The wording of Article 17 of the Basic Regulation does not exclude the extension of its scope to include recreational fishing. It is first and foremost up to the Member States to decide how fishing opportunities are allocated nationally (Article 16 paragraphs 6 and 7). Article 17 then obliges Member States to use transparent and objective criteria for such allocation among their different fleets.”
European Parliament resolution on the state of play of recreational fisheries in the European Union
In June 2018, the European Parliament approved a resolution
on the state of play of recreational fisheries in the European Union.
In particular, the Parliament considers that “the Commission should evaluate the role of recreational fisheries in the future CFP, so that both types of maritime fishing – commercial and recreational – can be managed in a balanced, fair and sustainable manner with a view to achieving the desired objectives.”
Multiannual managements plans and recreational fisheries
In April 2020, MEPs Niclas Herbst (Germany, EPP Group), Manuel Pizarro (Portugal, S&D Group) and Søren Gade (Denmark, Renew Europe Group) asked the European Commission and the Council on their interpretation of “non-discriminatory” and asked whether the Commission considers to have sufficient data on recreational fisheries in order to set these limits based on “transparent and objective criteria, including those of environmental, social and economic nature”. The multiannual management plans regulations include the following precision: “The criteria used may include, in particular, the impact of recreational fishing on the environment, the societal importance of that activity and its contribution to the economy in coastal areas”.
The Commission’s reply refers to the work of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and its Working Group on Recreational Fisheries Survey, which indeed plays a key role in summarising and ensuring the quality of data collected by EU countries. The reply also includes a particularly revealing footnote: limits to recreational fisheries were adopted “considering the environmental, social and economic circumstances – especially the dependency of commercial fishermen on those stocks in coastal communities”. This clearly shows or recalls that the Commission’s approach is to give prevalence to commercial fisheries’ interests in the access to fish stocks. However, fish stocks are, in principle, a common resource, a “public good”. It should therefore not be for the Commission to prioritise or ‘positively discriminate’ one group of EU citizens over another when it comes to access to fish.
The European Anglers Alliance calls for the full recognition of recreational fisheries in the CFP, as a distinct sector. This would support a better management of the access to fish stocks, which is a public resource. It would also translate into clearer policy for the European Union.
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