Fisheries experts are warned today (Tuesday) that steps to help develop Europe’s commercial fishing industry must not be taken at the expense of the region’s flourishing recreational sea angling business which is worth up to £7 million (€10 billion) annually.

Richard Ferré, chairman of the National Federation of Sea Anglers in England, will say that recreational sea angling in the European Union “is too valuable and too popular a sector to leave to chance.”

He will tell a conference at Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs) in London, that sea angling in the EU is just as valuable economically as commercial fishing, which is itself worth some €8.2 million, including €3.4 million from fish farming.

The needs of sea angling should be factored into decision-making about fisheries, and a share of fish stocks allocated to anglers to maximise the socio-economic return on the stocks.

“Sea angling is a hugely popular, commercially important activity.  It is not understood or managed in Europe, or included in planning and decision making  in the European common fisheries policy (CFP).

“Yet it takes place all around our coastlines.  The  expenditure and jobs its supports tend to be in areas often struggling economically, including where commercial fishing fleets have diminished in recent years.”

The USA, Australia and New Zealand actively managed and controlled their healthy and growing recreational sea angling.  

European governments should gather accurate and regular data on angling, its impact on fish stocks, the commercial value of the activity and take measures to increase its value.

In the UK more than one million people go sea angling every year, spending £1 billion and supporting 19,000 jobs in England and Wales alone.