Recreational fishermen will not be forced to declare what they catch under European quota rules, Brussels has reiterated. Questions have been raised in Brussles, however, on leisure fishing, in the runup to this week’s EU talks on agreeing new ways to ensure respect of Common European Fisheries Policy.
The context is the growing business of taking day-trippers out to fish. A European Commission spokesman clarified what is being considered: “Under the new proposed regulation to better control fisheries, there is no obligation for Member States to count all recreational catches against quota. There is only one thing, and this is a sensible thing, namely the obligation to evaluate the impact of some recreational fisheries, namely those that concern fish recovery stocks, and that is currently only cod and bluefin tuna.” Sweden says tourism and leisure fishing there is generating ten times more economically than the professional trade. Ecologist Aaron McLoughlin, with WWF, described a data-gathering exercise getting under way: “I think the Commission wants to raise the issue of recreational fishing for a very simple reason: they have no idea how big the problem is. They understand in the Baltic it is a large problem: Thirty percent of the cod caught is from recreational fishing. They really don’t know… they want to know, that’s all!” Collecting information from the EU Member States is often a challenge for the European Commission where vested interests are concerned — yet an official Swedish report said fishing tourism could increase further if more fish were protected from trawlers.