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Article 47 - Press Releases (Updated 03 Apr 09)

Jan 15,2009 SACN

Charlotte Jenner
Parliamentary Researcher to
Richard Benyon MP
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Wildlife
Member of Parliament for
Tel: 0207 219 8344
Shadow Fisheries Minister raises Article 47 with EU Commissioner. 
Shadow Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon, held a meeting with EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg.  The meeting was hosted by Conservative Fisheries Spokesman in the European Parliament Straun Stevenson.  Also at the meeting was Jimmy Buchan, the Skipper of Amity II which featured in the recent "Trawlermen" series on BBC1. Jimmy is the Conservative Candidate for Banff and Buchan.
Over one and a half hour meeting Richard raised the issue of the Article 47 and the desire by the Commission to include the recreational catch in national quota. Richard told the Commissioner that there was a sense of relief that the Commission was back tracking on the original proposal. However more needed to be done.  
Richard said,
"I told the Commissioner that the 1.1m UK anglers are still fearful of this measure. There are coastal towns that need the income sea anglers bring, much of it in the off season. It is just not workable to imagine small boat owners having to register, pay a fee and declare the few fish taken for the pot. We need sea anglers for the income they bring to coastal Britain and for the knowledge they have of what species are in good supply and what are in short supply. I am delighted that the Commissioner agreed to my suggestion that he meet a delegation from the Angling Trust in the near future"
Richard also attended the EU Parliament's Fisheries Committee and saw Struan Stevenson's amendment pass which ensures a level of national discretion in the implementation of this measure.  Richard also noted how useless UKIP have been on an issue they have made much on in the press.  Not one amendment had been tabled by the UKIP representative to the Committee.


For Immediate Release: EAA Refutes Euromyth on Recreational Angling (Art 47)

- and requests the European Commission UK office in London to delete from its website the proclaimed Euromyth of 22 January: "No EU fish quotas for amateur anglers", as we find the reasons for making this a Euromyth unfounded as explained in detail in this release.

Who Kills the Myth-killers Myths?

- Article 47 on Recreational Fishing

For a number of years the European Commission UK office has devoted resources and a part of its website to chaise, address and publishes what they call Euromyths:

"'Euromyths' are what we call scare stories about the EU reported in the British press, usually based on hearsay, rumours and half-truths, many of which have been repeated so often that they have become accepted truths within the public and media consciousness. This section clears up some of the most persistent of these. It is (unfortunately!) updated regularly."

We were caught by surprise when we learnt that an angling Euromyth had been on the loose but caught and killed by the European Commission UK office in London. We found the story on the office’s website front-page named "No EU fish quotas for amateur anglers", 22 January.

As evidence the London office had copied sentences from three press stories caught in the act, which they labelled: "This is either incorrect information or severely distorted." There was a link to the office’s impressive collection of more than hundred Euromyths caught over the years. Here we found the new crook named and filed as: "Euromyth: Now sea anglers to face EU fish quotas". Here it is to stay, imprisoned for an indefinite numbers of years for all to see and shame ��" if not deleted as requested by us.

To kill a myth you’d need facts and truth to kill it with, wouldn’t you? That’s what we thought but the more we read the more confused we became. This Euromyth didn't look much like a Euromyth after all. What it did look like was a miscarriage of justice for most parts. A thin case but prosecuted by a team seemingly eager enough to twist facts and invent evidence as when needed and even to create new myths themselves.

2,000 years ago Roman poet Juvenal asked the infamous and immortal question for the first time Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes, who watches the watchers? Had Juvenal lived today he might had asked 'who kills the myth-killers' myths?'

Well, below EAA takes on that role in a try to do just that, kill the myth-killers' myths about Article 47 on Recreational Fishing.

Hearsay, rumours and half-truths in public space

It is of course important that the legislative powers' behaviours, intentions and messages reach the public in its clearest non-biased form. And it is quite a task and responsibility for those trusted to identify and correct what shall be deemed hearsay, rumours and half-truths let loose in the public space. However, humans do mistakes, and Myth-killers are no exception. Since the release 17 November of a proposal for a new control

regulation - containing the now infamous Art 47 on recreational fishing - more than 50 media stories in the UK alone have been run about it. Surely, these stories are not all as accurate as one could wish for. The Myth-killers surely are right about one thing, that fishing quotas are not managed by the European Parliament. But they are very wrong to claim that "Now sea anglers to face EU fish quotas" should be deemed a Euromyth.

In the following we take it as a fact that all anglers at some point in time will catch a fish from a stock subject to a multiannual plan (e.g. a hake, cod, plaice, eel or sole). Myth-killers is shortened MK.

MK: "There has in fact been no proposal put forward by the European Commission submitting all recreational anglers and fishermen to quotas."

EAA: We believe that at this point in time it is uncertain if the proposal will or won’t submit "all recreational anglers to quotas". Even if this proposal might not include all anglers we are still puzzled and frightened about "how many" and "who" will be submitted to quotas then? We find that the Myth-killers are too conclusive and downplay far below reasonable and possible on that question. The Myth-killers claim, that "The new control system is aimed at a small number of recreational fisheries, which practise large-scale recreational fishing from a vessel on the open sea,...". This might be the Commission's intention but we cannot read that from anywhere in the proposed regulation text or the assessment report and we don't believe anybody else can. Article 47 states that:

"Catches of species subject to a multiannual plan by recreational fisheries shall be counted against the relevant quotas of the flag Member State. The Member States concerned shall establish a share from such quotas to be used exclusively for the purpose of recreational fisheries."

And Article 2, the scope for the Regulation - which is made up of 116 articles by the way - reads:

This Regulation shall apply to all activities carried out on the territory of Member States or in Community waters or by Community fishing vessels or, without prejudice to the primary responsibility of the flag State, nationals of Member States, which relate to (a) the conservation, management and exploitation of living aquatic resources, (..)

As a starting point the wording of the scope seems to include all fish exploiters inclusive anglers no matter where they fish or how they fish. If the Member States insist - what we surely hope they do not - what can stop them from including all anglers' catches in the quota system if these are "catches of species subject to a multiannual plan"?

MK: The proposal is only aimed at "large-scale recreational fishing from a vessel"

EAA: Where is it written that only boat anglers are included? Would it stand a ruling at the EC Court of Justice?

Is this really only about "a small number of recreational fisheries" and only "large-scale recreational fishing from a vessel" as claimed by the Myth-killers? How much is "a small number"? How big is "large-scale"? Nobody knows. It is just words without substance, but words chosen carefully to describe the eventual negative effects as positive as possible.

Can the Myth-killers guarantee that today's "species subject to a multi-annual plan" are all the same next year? In five years time? We believe they can't. We believe more species could be included in the future, which means more of anglers catches to be "counted against the relevant quotas". And that makes "a small number" a relative. Even if "a small number" - whatever that is - should be the truth today it could easily grow from small too big in the future.

The English Minister Huw Irranca-Davies gave a cautious answer the other day, which we find runs counter to what is claimed by the Myth-killers:

"In England there are some 400 charter angling vessels that would require an authorisation under Article 47 of the proposal as currently drafted, plus an as yet unquantified number of privately owned vessels. As part of the process of negotiating this proposal we shall be seeking clarification from the Commission on a number of issues relating to Article 47. Until we have that clarification it is difficult accurately to assess its potential impact ..."

No new rules for "the occasional angler"?

MK: "...neither will there be any new rules for the occasional angler."

EAA: To be able to judge or even discuss the truth of this claim we need to know: what is an "occasional angler"? Unfortunately, it seems impossible to find an answer to that anywhere. Therefore, we have to turn to the scope for the proposed regulation and Article 47, and by doing so we can only come to the opposite conclusion: that all and any angler fishing for a sea fish ��" including those fishing for migrating fresh/sea fish like salmon, trout and eels in inland waters - can be subject to new rules as a consequence of the implementation of this regulation. The last mentioned group of inland anglers might not be included the rules in explicit terms but we find that Article 47 could trigger new regulations for them as we have seen happen for eels (Swedish example further below).

Angling and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)

MK: "The European Commission is not proposing to bring angling into the Common Fisheries Policy."

EAA: Yes and no. Recreational angling is already in the CFP (e.g. the Data Collection Regulation), so that cannot happen again. But the proposed regulation will bring angling further into the CFP. However, recreational angling is still not offered an as prominent position within the CFP as are commercial fisheries and aquaculture. Recreational fisheries is only there for its catches to be counted, not for the appreciation of its huge worth to the practitioners and society, which the CFP could help bringing more of if the inclusion were genuine and equal to what is offered the other fisheries sectors.

Inland and fresh water angling not touched upon?

MK: "Inland and sweet water fishing is not touched upon."..."Anglers fishing in freshwater or on the shore will be able to continue as they have always done."

EAA: As already mentioned we are not convinced that river and lake anglers' fishing for e.g. eels, salmon and trout are excluded from being impacted by this regulation now or later. Sweden is an example what happened as a consequence of the implementation of the EU eel management plan. Swedish anglers’ eel catches have been restricted, while the biggest of the commercial eel fishers are allowed to continue as they used to.

Shore angling not touched upon?

EAA: According the Myth-killers the proposal doesn’t concern shore anglers, only those fishing from boats. As we see it, this means that two different sets of rules will apply to the same fishing spot in these cases where you can fish the same water (close to land) from either a boat or from piers, shore or by wadding out. Why should only a part of the recreational fisheries catches from the sea be of interest and not the rest? Is this sensible data collection and management or is it the Commission’s intention to include all anglers under the same regulation after all?

Fish targeted by anglers and commercial fishermen

MK: "The fish targeted by anglers are not the same as commercial fishermen"

EAA: This is definitely not true. There are species fished by both sectors and species only targeted by one of the sectors. What could be said is that the over-fished stocks subject to this regulation were brought in peril not by recreational angling but commercial fisheries as a consequence of a failed CFP. We tend to believe that if anglers and commercial fishermen didn't target the same stocks most likely there would not have been any Art 47 proposal on the table.

Where shall the angling quotas come from?

We cannot see written anywhere where the recreational fisheries quotas shall come from. Are they to be taken out of the commercial fishermen's existing quotas? Are recreational catches already included fully or partly the mortality figures behind the setting of quotas? We don’t know but we do fear that if Art 47 is implemented anglers' catches might be restricted while the commercial catches/TACs won’t be limited as much as they should have been without Art 47. The Myth-killers overall perception on things and the way they express themselves only nurtures our worst fears in this respect. According their perception it is clear that if recreational fisheries take 50% of a fish stock it is a problem and high take, while if commercial fishermen takes 50% it is ok, and low take. We for our part don’t see this as rational but misperceived emotional or flawed thinking.

The impact on UK fishermen in the South-West.

MK: "..the impact of the proposals will be very minor on UK fishermen especially in the South-West."

EAA: It is far too early to say anything conclusive about that. This is at best wish-thinking at worst propaganda.

"Serious repercussions"

MK: "There are still serious repercussions that recreational fishing can have. For example, in the UK, studies have shown recreational catches of sea bass in England and Wales amount to 421 tonnes, with commercial catches amounting to 1,079 tonnes."

EAA: This is much distorted information tending to propaganda. It turns the reality upside down. Let's leave aside that these figures seem to be about 15 years old and outdated. The main message from the Myth-killers is that if recreational fishing for sea bass is about 1/3 of the total fishing effort then it is a good example that recreational fishing can have "serious repercussions". This is outrageous!

For one thing, the sea bass was and is fished sustainable according ICES the scientific adviser to the European Commission, so what's the problem? Secondly, UK sea bass were some decades ago a recreational species with very little targeted commercial fishing. Later the consumers got a taste for this fish and the commercial netting took its toll so it today takes more than the recreational sector. To avoid this from becoming a problem for the sea bass stock the recreational bass anglers in UK has worked out a sea bass management plan, to secure the stock against overfishing in the future. That plan was agreed by one minister but overturned by the next as some commercial fishermen had a hard time and needed more fish to catch.

MK also refers to German cod catches as yet another evidence for "serious repercussions" recreational fishing can have. It is a less important detail that in one place MK refers to Baltic cod in another to North Sea cod (North Sea cod is wrong). The important thing is that MK and everybody else has to understand and accept that fish is a public resource. It is not the sole property of some relatively few fishermen making profit on them.

There are 8-10 million European sea anglers, and 25 million sea and freshwater anglers in Europe. They generate a socio-economic value of more than 25 billion euros every year.

The value to society from recreational anglers’ catches compared with commercial catches kilo-by-kilo is much, much higher for recreational catches. Therefore, to focus only on the catch side of recreational fisheries is not enough. The value side cannot be left out if anybody should be able to judge if this and not that fishery is to be deemed having "serious repercussions". This way of looking at things is not only common sense but complies with objectives and principles for sustainable development, protection of bio-diversity and the ecosystem management approach - principles the Common Fisheries Police itself have to apply to.

Article 47 raises a number of questions. Many open questions cannot be discussed or answered meaningfully without providing definitions for non-defined terms as e.g. "recreational fisheries" and "vessel". The Commission also needs to explain how catches "by recreational fisheries shall be counted against the relevant quotas". Nobody seems to know if some or all recreational catches already are included the mortality figures estimated before quotas are calculated and distributed. If not counted, the worst case scenario is zero quotas available for the recreational angling sector. We find this to be the case if the decision makers are unwilling to re-allocate the quota needed but already given to the commercial fisheries sector - but we stand to be corrected.



Tories Fight To Save Sea Angling
Bill Wiggin MP, the Conservative Party’s Shadow Fisheries Minister, has today attacked the Government for failing to take action to save the £1 billion recreational sea angling sector from damaging EU proposals. If implemented, a draft Regulation prepared by the Commission would force Britain’s 1.5 million recreational sea anglers
    • to declare their catches,
    • be restricted by quota limits
    • and face overwhelming levels of bureaucracy including the introduction of licences, which the Government had ruled out only last year.
After Environment Secretary Hilary Benn refused to oppose these proposals or even acknowledge angler's concerns in the House of Commons, Bill Wiggin said:
“By refusing to stand up to the EU, the Government is not only letting down over a million sea anglers but is also putting £1 billion and 20,000 jobs at risk. Not content with bringing the ten metre and under fishermen to the brink of ruin by reducing their allocation of quota, ministers now want to swamp sea anglers and boat owners in bureaucracy from Brussels.”
“Under these proposals, a sea angler catching a couple of cod would have to fill in forms or buy a licence to declare their catch and it would count against the national quota.
Or a small boat, making only a handful of journeys to sea each year would need to apply for a fishing licence.
This level of control is totally ridiculous and instead of persecuting the nation’s sea anglers the Government and EU should be focusing on tackling discards and making our fisheries sustainable and profitable.”

Notes to Editors:
Defra OPQs, 15 January 2009:
Bill Wiggin (Leominster) (Con): Does the Secretary of State agree that one thing that will not improve the marine environment is EU Commission regulation article 47, which relates to EU monitoring of recreational fisheries?
It seeks to take away precious quota from our professional fishermen and heap a horrendous bureaucratic burden on the 1.5 million sea anglers, who contribute £1 billion to the economy.
Will the Secretary of State join me and the newly formed Angling Trust and use every ounce of his strength to reject that ridiculous proposal?
Hilary Benn: My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will meet representatives of the Angling Trust shortly to discuss the matter.
In the end, it is important that we strike a balance, on that issue and others.
We are determined to ensure that there are opportunities for sustainable fisheries and I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s achievement in the fisheries negotiations just before Christmas.
Such things are difficult to balance, but we achieved a reasonable outcome.

Article 47, COM(2008) 721 final, 2008/0216 (CNS), a ‘Proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy,’ [SEC(2008) 2760; ESC(2008) 2761], states:
Chapter V
Monitoring of Recreational Fisheries
Article 47
Recreational fisheries
1.      Recreational fisheries on a vessel in Community waters on a stock subject to a multiannual plan shall be subject to an authorisation for that vessel issued by the flag Member State.
2.      Catches in recreational fisheries on stocks subject to a multiannual plan shall be registered by the flag Member State.
3.      Catches of species subject to a multiannual plan by recreational fisheries shall be counted against the relevant quotas of the flag Member State. The Member States concerned shall establish a share from such quotas to be used exclusively for the purpose of recreational fisheries.
4.      The marketing of catches from a recreational fishery shall be prohibited except for philanthropic purposes.

Former Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw had promised that sea anglers would not be faced with a licence fee, but the EU proposals pave the way for licensing.
18 Mar 2008 : Column 944W
Angling: Licensing
Jonathan Shaw: I met sea angling representatives at the Angling summit on 18 February where a number of concerns were raised with me regarding the introduction of a chargeable licence for sea angling. I have also discussed the issue direct with anglers around the coast, as have my officials. In view of the concerns expressed, including the extent to which sea anglers expected to see benefits from the charge, I have decided not to proceed with enabling powers in the Marine Bill to introduce a sea angling licence.


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