EU Denies "crazy" Plan But Leaves Sea Anglers Wondering

The European Union would be "crazy" if it tried to control millions of hobby anglers and would not implement "such a ludicrous system" in its plans to update controls on the commercial fishing industry.

But this pledge by Joe Borg, the EU fisheries commissioner, has left Britain’s recreational sea anglers still sceptical.

"We stay on red alert," Richard Ferré, a director of the Angling Trust, said today.

The row over what is known as "Article 47" had threatened to engulf Mr. Borg. Last week he moved to calm the row in the European Parliament’s fisheries committee.

British MEPs had warned that every pleasure vessel which ever went fishing, might have to be registered and its catches reported.  The proposals, Mr. Borg told them, had been misinterpreted.

"Let me make clear once and for all that the hobby angler who catches a few kilos of fish every time he goes out fishing and uses it for his private consumption, will not be covered by the control regulation…," Mr. Borg said.

Mr. Ferré, the Angling Trust’s director for sea angling, said that Mr. Borg’s statement was welcome but it depended on the definition of recreational sea angling. "The commissioner had said there were abundant facts and figures showing that certain forms of what he called recreational fishing, had a dangerous and considerable impact on certain vulnerable fish stocks."

"That is squishy," he said. "True recreational sea anglers do not sell their catches, they and their families eat them. Their impact on fish stocks is scarcely measurable," he said.

The fisheries commissioner must, Mr. Ferré added, honour his promise to exclude recreational sea angling from his proposals for new controls for commercial fishing. "The UK’s £1 billion recreational sea angling sport is caught up in this controversy and urgently needs to be disentangled from it."

The Angling Trust, he said, would continue campaigning with MEPs to ensure UK recreational sea angling would not be swallowed up by what Mr. Borg said would be a "ludicrous system."


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