Sea anglers’ catches ‘will not be counted against quotas’

Fears that catches by recreational sea anglers were going to be subject to the European quota system have receded after the European Council adopted a ‘‘substantially watered down” version of the controversial Article 47 proposal.

A revised Control Regulation for Europe’s fisheries was adopted by the European Council in October and it includes a chapter on recreational fisheries for the very first time. It is based on the original Article 47 which was proposed a year ago by the European Commission as part of a radical overhaul of the existing rules governing European fisheries. That original text seemed to suggest that recreational catches should be counted as part of a nation’s overall annual quota.

But, says European Fishing Tackle Trade Association’s (EFTTA) lobbyist in Brussels Jan Kappel, the final version of Article 47 adopted by the European Council is far more limited in scope. Says Jan Kappel: “The text from November 2008 – if interpreted to the limit – could have made recreational sea anglers and other recreational fishermen subject to catch declarations, log books, licences and fishing authorisations. It could also have lead to all recreational boats being registered.

“Even freshwater fisheries could have been subject to Article 47 provisions if that first draft had been adopted unchanged.

“This has all been watered down substantially. Article 47 is now limited in scope so that it only concerns recreational catches of species or stocks under a recovery plan. In fact, anglers can continue unaffected to fish even on a recovery stock under certain circumstances if the angling pressure is deemed to be small.

“Fishing from the shore, including beaches and piers is explicitly excluded from the Regulation,” he added.

Jan Kappel has taken an active role lobbying MEPs, the Commission and Council members on behalf of recreational anglers ever since Article 47 was first proposed.

He added: “We tried until the last minute to have Article 47 deleted as we were not too happy with the final compromise text we had seen. More time would have been welcomed, but the ministers wanted to secure a final agreement on this regulation as it is due to take effect from January 1st.

“This Regulation is part of a bigger package, the ongoing reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. For this reason the decision makers wanted this piece of legislation off the table so they could move on with other equally important issues.

“However, compared to the text we were presented with in November there is reason enough to have a sip of a glass, though not reason enough to empty the entire bottle.”