We are very pleased to have received the following Press Statement from Mr Struan Stevenson MEP, Conservative Member for Scotland and Chairman of the Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament. The Press Statement is in response to all the letters that he has received from anglers, as a result of the joint campaign launched by the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society and the National Federation of Sea Anglers to raise awareness of MEPs and politicians to the lack of recognition of sea angling interests in the Review of the Common Fisheries Policy.
“Having received over 300 letters in the past month from constituents voicing their displeasure at the lack of reference to recreational sea angling in the ongoing Review of the Common Fisheries Policy, I am happy to address this problem.
Recreational Sea Angling is an important source of income in the UK, in some instances proving to be more economically viable than commercial fishing. It is difficult to estimate exactly what this lucrative industry is worth as there has been little research undertaken on the topic so far. However, in the United States, not only does sport fishing benefit coastal communities economically, but is worth 13 times the value of commercial landings. In Europe, there has been a failure to represent these high levels of national participation in policy formation. This means that sport sea anglers are finding themselves marginalised in the CFP debate.
The Review of the CFP was hailed by the Commission as an opportunity to allow stakeholders to have their say at the highest level. One such opportunity was in June last year, when the Commission held 3 days of Hearings. I was extremely pleased to see so many sea angling associations represented. Following on from this, amendments by angling industry groups were submitted at both the Committee and Plenary stages. However, they failed to be adopted. I have now brought this issue to the attention of the Commissioner for Fisheries, Franz Fischler, in order to have the voices of sport sea angling groups heard and to insist on fairer treatment and greater recognition for sea anglers during the forthcoming CFP negotiations.
Despite the Green Paper setback, when the Commission’s legislative proposals on CFP reform are sent to the European Parliament Fisheries Committee in April. Conservatives in the European Parliament will do their utmost to ensure that the sport of sea angling is properly debated and protected by EU law.
Reform of the CFP also provides the Commission with an opportunity to consider the issue of integrated coastal zone management. This would mean that European waters would be divided into zones governed by the local stakeholders that operate within them. Advisory Committees would allow the most appropriate methods to be used for fishing and conservation within that zone, rather than enforcing European-wide practices. Conservatives have long argued that this is the best, and ultimately only method of ensuring sustainable fisheries. Indeed, obtaining control of our fishing capacity within our national limits will ensure that future generations of sea anglers will be able to enjoy the sport.
The issue of considering sea angling within the CFP will continue through the rest of this year and as Chairman of the Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament, I shall continue to work to secure the best results for those in the sport sea angling industry.
Struan Stevenson MEP Conservative Member for Scotland and Chairman of the Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament