I have previously reported that the European Union was threatening recreational anglers with absorption into the Common Fisheries Policy.
I have previously reported that the European Union was threatening recreational anglers with absorption into the Common Fisheries Policy.A vote in the European Parliament this week has got them off the hook.
Article 47 of the proposed regulation would have forced recreational fishermen to register their boats. Their catch would have been counted against the fisheries quota for their country. Nations would additionally be made to allocate a share of their quota for each fish species to both commercial and recreational fishermen.
However, the European Parliament Fisheries Committee backed a Conservative proposal to reword the legislation so that national governments could decide whether they would include recreational fishermen in the regulation. The Parliament has now supported this position.
East Midlands Conservative MEP Roger Helmer commented:
"The Parliament's approval of this amendment, together with assurances we have received from Commissioner Borg, reassures me that recreational anglers have nothing to fear from the revised article 47.
During the debate he told us he wished all member states to conduct an analysis of the impact recreational angling has on fish stocks.
I hope he will accept the view of the European parliament, who rejected this by an overwhelming majority and accepted the Conservative amendment that leaves it up to individual countries whether they apply these measures or not.
Rather than attacking anglers, the European Commission must sort out the crazy situation with discards, where millions of tons of healthy fish are wasted every year."
Struan Stevenson, Conservative fisheries spokesman in the European Parliament, has promised to fight a proposed regulation from the European Commission to bring recreational fishing under the direct control of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Recreational fishermen (and fisherwomen) would be obliged to register their boats, under Article 47 of the regulation. Their catch would be counted against the quota for that country. Countries will also be required to allocate shares of their quota for recreational and for commercial fishing.
Passage of the proposal through the European Parliament is expected to begin later this month, with a vote in April. Mr Stevenson comments:
"Recreational fishing is a simple pleasure that would become a bureaucratic nightmare if these plans become law.
This kind of draconian approach would do very little to assist in the recovery of fish stocks, yet it will cause a great deal of damage to tourism and the whole fishing sport.
If the European Union is serious about acting to protect fish stocks in the EU, it should launch a fundamental overhaul of the CFP, not target an ancient hobby."
Ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss fishing quotas for 2009. The European Commission tabled proposals in November to cut quotas on cod, herring, haddock and whiting by 25 per cent (with a seven per cent increase in North Sea sole).
Struan Stevenson, Conservative spokesman for fisheries in the European Parliament, has commented:
"Fishermen dread this annual meeting. In a matter of hours, the fate of British fishermen could be sealed in a misguided effort to preserve stocks through micro-management from Brussels.
A decade of failed fisheries policies has only served to destroy thousands of jobs across the fishing industry, yet fish stocks continue to plummet.
The introduction of a kilowatt-day system - a highly complex method of linking engine power to the number of hours fished - on top of the other plethora of controls already in place will not provide the solution to our difficulties.
The best way for the EU to show it is serious about protecting fish stocks would be to ban fish discards immediately so that a million tonnes of fish is not thrown back into the sea. Discarding fish during a food crisis, just to appease Brussels desk-jockeys is morally unjust."
Mr Stevenson is right. But there is a bigger problem - and that is the whole concept of allowing our fishing practices to be dictated by a body other than the UK parliament.
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