Officials from the Angling Trust and the European Anglers’ Alliance met today with Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg at the European Commission in Brussels to discuss the review of the Common Fisheries Policy and to raise concerns about the proposed regulation of Europe’s 10 million recreational sea anglers.

Joe Borg said at the meeting, and in a letter being sent to all European angling organisations, that the Commission’s controversial Article 47 regulation of fisheries is not intended to impact on recreational sea angling and that the regulations are to be limited to cod and blue-fin tuna which are under relevant recovery plans. He stated that the purpose of the regulation was not to impose restrictions or bureaucracy on shore or boat anglers who were not themselves catching significant numbers of fish. He went on to say that if regulations were warranted, they would be lifted in the event of a recovery plan being successful.

However, despite these assurances, the Angling Trust stressed that there was still considerable uncertainty remaining about the definition of recreational sea angling, and raised concerns about the sheer weight of bureaucracy the regulations could create.

The Angling Trust representatives, which included Chief Executive Mark Lloyd and Marine Committee Chairman Stuart McPherson, also raised the following issues with the Commissioner:
– The importance of data about recreational sea angling which is collected scientifically and can be trusted by everyone involved.
– The need for clear definitions of recreational sea angling.
– Concerns about the impact of bag limits, in particular those based on weight, on recreational anglers.
– Clarification of whether the regulations would apply to individual anglers or boats.
– The impact of the regulations on the significant UK charter boat industry.
– Whether or not the data control regulations would apply to all recreational sea anglers in respect of stocks subject to recovery plans.
– The importance of recognising that recreational sea angling is a sustainable activity, because it has a negligible impact on habitats and anglers return immature fish alive and well to the sea.
– The fact that recreational sea angling supports many local economies and has considerable social benefits.

The Commissioner asked the Angling Trust to provide input into a definition of recreational sea angling and offered continued dialogue on the other outstanding issues.

Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd said of the meeting, “it was a positive discussion in which we were able to impress on Commissioner Borg the fact that recreational sea anglers have a negligible effect on fish stocks and that any attempt to impose bag limits would be met with resistance by many recreational sea anglers in the UK.”

Marine Committee Chairman Stuart McPherson added, “We achieved our main aim in making sure he was aware of the enormous importance sea angling has to the UK economy and that excessive regulation, or the imposition of quotas, would have a direct impact on local communities. We also made clear the view, backed up by various surveys, that recreational sea angling has far more economic importance in the UK than commercial fishing.”

The Angling Trust also held meetings with civil servants and MEPs during their visit to Brussels.

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