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UK Government States Position on Article 47

Apr 06,2009 sacn


LABOUR SAYS “NO WAY” TO SEA ANGLING CATCH QUOTAS

Following strong lobbying from the Angling Trust, sea angling groups, and Parliamentary angling spokesman Martin Salter MP, Labour’s Fisheries Minister Huw Irranca-Davies has made clear the Government’s opposition to any attempt to use the EU Article 47 Directive to impose quota restrictions on catches made by recreational sea anglers.

In a strongly worded letter to Martin Salter, Huw Irranca-Davies said:-

“I am certainly aware of and can understand the strong concern among the sea angling community about the proposal to regulate recreational fishing activity. I was able to hear these concerns first hand at the Angling Summit which you chaired in the House in January and in the correspondence I have received on the issue from a range of sea anglers.”

He continued:-

“We will be opposing the Article 47 proposals in their current form. I do not believe that the Commission has made the case to date to support its proposals and we will continue to challenge and seek further clarification from the Commission and amendments to the proposals.”

Martin Salter stated:-

“I wrote to the Fisheries Minister last month inviting him to clarify the British Government’s position in order to allay the fears about sea angling quotas which were caused by some of the mixed messages coming out of Brussels. I’m delighted he has taken such a robust line and came down on the side of sea anglers. This is excellent news and Huw Irranca-Davies is to be congratulated for lisening and acting in the interests of anglers”.

Leon Roskilly, a recreational sea angling campaigner, said:-

“I’m immensely reassured that the UK Government is backing the country’s recreational sea anglers on the issue of Article 47, including the many businesses and coastal communities that rely upon visiting sea anglers for their livelihoods. The Minister’s stated position on Article 47 reflects the effort put in by the Angling Trust, clubs and individual anglers to alert DEFRA to the damage that these proposals could do to a sector that is incredibly important to so many, and which is widely regarded as having minimal impact on fish-stocks.”

He added:-

“That the Government is prepared to listen to our concerns, at a time when anglers are reeling from mounting threats to our passion, gives every angler hope for the future. We look forward to a continued and robust defence of the rights and freedoms enjoyed by the nation’s anglers, against all unnecessary bureaucratic restrictions.”

Text of the Minister's letter:

Martin Salter MP
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

2nd April 2009

From Huw Irranca-Davies MP
Minister for the Natural and Marine Environment, Wildlife & Rural Affairs

Dear Martin,
 
Thank you for your letter of 12 March about the European Commission Proposals to regulate sea angling.

Further to our discussion earlier this month, I am certainly aware of and can understand the strong concern among the sea angling community about the proposal to regulate recreational fishing activity.  I was able to hear these concerns first hand at the ‘Angling Summit’ which you chaired in the House in January and in the correspondence I have received on the issue from a range of sea anglers.

Let me lay out my position, and thereby the position of the UK government:  I can confirm that we will be opposing the article 47 proposals in their current form because of their potential impact on recreational sea anglers.  My reasons are laid out in some detail below.

First, it may be helpful to bring you up to date on where the discussions in Europe have reached on this proposal.  To date, the discussions have been at an official level and have only last week reached article 47.  In the lead up to these discussions, Commissioner Borg made a helpful statement in the European Parliament that the proposals were not intended to capture ‘hobby’ angling.  The Commission has also recently said that fishing from the shore will not be included.  The European Parliament Fisheries Committee has also this week issued a report on this subject, pointing to the need for increased monitoring of angling catches before any further controls are considered.  A copy of the report can be found via the following link:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/033-52909-089-03-14-904-20090330IPR52908-30-03-2009-2009-false/default_en.htm

These are helpful statements for us to build on but they have not as yet been translated into any changes to the text of Article 47.  So, the distinctions which the Commission seem to be making between different types of angling are not clear in the proposals as they are currently drafted.  The Commission has recently undertaken to produce a revised text of this Article which should clarify its scope and extent although there appears to be less concern to date about these proposals among other Member States and this may reflect the fact that some of these Member States already license sea angling.  In view of this, however, the Angling Trust may wish to consider raising awareness and discussing their concerns on this subject with their counterparts across Europe.

In terms of our position on the proposals, they form part of a draft regulation addressing wider control and enforcement beyond sea angling alone.  Compliance is a top priority for the UK and I support the general need for a new control regime which addresses shortcomings identified previously by the European Court of Auditors and which will help to support Defra’s wider objectives in relation to reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.  That said, I believe that the Commission needs to be very cautious indeed in seeking to extend the control regime to cover recreational sea angling ��" particularly where the impact of these activities are generally not known or where the impact could be minimal.

I am not in principle opposed to regulating an activity where it has a measurable impact on the recovery of stocks under pressure, and I am not opposed to the regulation of commercial activity carried out under the guise of recreational fishing (for example, the sale of catches from unlicensed vessels).  I know also that all responsible recreational sea-anglers would accept that where a stock is depleted, all those whose activities impact on that stock need to play a part in ensuring its recovery.  But where measures are proposed in these circumstances then they must be proportionate, easy to comply with and enforceable.

So, to sum up my position, we will be opposing the Article 47 proposals in their current form.  I do not believe that the Commission has made the case to date to support its proposals and we will continue to challenge and seek further clarification from the Commission and amendments to the proposals.  I would consider further work to evaluate the impact of anglers catches on certain stocks to put beyond doubt the question of their impact, but until that work is completed and evaluated at a Community level, the issue of counting catches by recreational sea anglers against quota is premature and unjustified.

I expect there to be an initial discussion of the entire Control Regulation proposal at June Council, when Article 47 will be discussed but no decisions will be taken until later this year.  This will ensure that there is sufficient time and opportunity to find an acceptable way forward.  I will keep you and angling stakeholders updated as the discussions proceed and officials will also write to angling stakeholders to bring them up to date on the discussions.  There will be further opportunities for sea anglers to feed in their comments as the discussions progress.

I hope this is a helpful update for you and a clarification of our position, and I am happy for you to share this letter with the Angling Trust.

Huw Irranca-Davies

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Angling Trust Response:

Angling Trust

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Monday 6th April 2009

Government backs sea anglers’ fight to escape EU’s net of rules

Recreational sea anglers have won crucial support from the government in the latest round of their fight to defeat an attempt by the European Union to extend its fisheries regulations to anglers and make them report every fish they catch.

Fisheries minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, weighed-in this afternoon (Monday, April 6) saying the proposals would be opposed by the government “…because of their potential impact on recreational sea anglers.

“I do not believe the EU Commission has made the case to support them and we will continue to seek further clarification and amendments,” he said.

His decision follows massive opposition to the proposed rules (known as Article 47) from Britain's one million anglers who comprise a £1 billion a year industry.

The Angling Trust which promotes all forms of recreational angling, has lobbied, all the 76 UK members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Westminster MPs with constituencies where recreational sea angling is a substantial part of the local seaside economies, and several senior civil servants in the environment department (Defra).

Stuart McPherson, the trust’s director for marine matters, said the UK government’s support for its campaign against “this iniquitous EU proposal” was a major step forward.

“Our next move is making clear to the Commission that recreational sea angling in the UK is quite different from so-called recreational fisheries in other parts of Europe, at which these proposed regulations are really directed.

“Our aim is to persuade the Commission to remove all UK recreational sea angling from Article 47.”

News of the government’s backing for anglers in their spat with the EU, was given in a letter to Martin Salter MP (Labour, Reading West), the Government’s angling spokesman.

The minister said that while he supported the general need for new controls for, and reform of, the EU Common Fisheries Policy, he believed the Commission needed “to be very cautious indeed in seeking to extend controls to recreational sea angling.”

The move is in the wake of two significant adjustments to the proposed rules by the EU fisheries commissioner, Joe Borg, since they were published in November (2008),

In February he admitted that it would be “crazy” and “ludicrous” to try to control millions of hobby anglers. Last month he said anglers fishing from the shore or from kayaks would be exempted but those in boats, both privately owned and charter boats, would be subjected to catch returns on certain species and could be limited to the numbers they caught.

“These ministers must understand that these ludicrous proposals (as Dr. Borg himself now calls them) would seriously impact the economies of our coastal communities where sea angling supports 19,000 jobs, according to government figures.”

“The Angling Trust continues to make every effort to persuade the EU Council of Ministers, who will have the final decision, to drop these overbearing restrictions,” Mr. McPherson said.

Issued by The Angling Trust
For more information or pictures please contact our Press Office 01159 813535
Direct line: 07721361367 or 07812027052


---ENDS---



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