Anglers would be forced to register fish caught against their national quota

Brussels, 29th June 2009 — The European Commission seems to have ignored the European Parliament and reintroduced draconian proposals to force recreational fishermen to count their catch against each country’s EU quota, Struan Stevenson MEP, Conservative fisheries spokesman in the European Parliament, warned.

The commission has proposed a regulation that aims to ensure countries comply with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The most contentious part is Article 47, which would have required recreational fishermen to register their boats and whatever they catch would be counted against the fisheries quota for that country. Each country would also be required to decide what share of its quota for each fish species will be available for commercial and recreational fisheries use.

A Conservative campaign earlier this year led to the EU Fisheries Commissioner accepting that the proposals were badly thought through and committing to change them. In an answer to a written question posed to the commission by Mr Stevenson at the end of March, Commissioner Joe Borg, confirmed: “The normal hobby angler who catches an insignificant number of fish when he goes out fishing and uses it exclusively for his private consumption will not be covered by the control regulation, even if he catches fish like cod which is under a recovery plan.“

In April, the parliament voted to water down the proposals and replace the crucial word ’shall’ with ’may’ when deciding whether or not national governments would be obliged to register recreational catch against their CFP quota.

However the latest proposal from the European Commission once again contains the word ’shall’, and seems to give the European Commission powers to decide whether a country will be required to subject its anglers to registration of their catches against the nation’s quota.

Mr Stevenson said:

“We thought the European Commission had listened to the serious concerns recreational anglers had about these plans. We were under the impression that this was simply a case of well-intentioned proposals having an unintended impact on an historic British pastime, however the new draft proposal I have seen would suggest otherwise. I have written to the Commissioner asking him to clarify what his intentions are with this new proposal.

“MEPs voted overwhelmingly to water down these overzealous proposals and the voices of hundreds of thousands of hobby anglers must be heard.

“There is a big difference between so-called recreational angling in certain parts of the EU and the hobby angling of the UK. UK angling barely touches our fish stocks but it is worth a huge amount of money to our tourism industry. Knowing how the British government likes to take the strictest interpretation of EU law possible, we need to make sure we get this regulation right.“

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