Article 47 - A Charter Skippers Personal Opinion.
It is not difficult to understand just why Joe Borg and his team want to impose radical new legislation against "recreational" sea fishing,
Many of his emotive comments suggest that he, like many other fisheries management leaders have only ever had experience in dealing with commercial fishermen’s interests and concerns, this is after all quite understandable because many of those fisheries management groups were actually created to manage commercial fishing,
It should therefore come as no surprise to RSA that Joe Borg and other heads of fisheries management groups have absolutely no knowledge of non commercial sea fishing activities,
However, what has come as a surprise is the fact that Mr Borg and his team are apparently prepared to attempt to regulate RSA without actually recognising, understanding or consulting RSA,
My own opinion is that Mr Borg should at the very least initiate an environmental impact study (EIS) on recreational sports angling in Europe, and simultaneously carry out another EIS on the so called "Recreational" unlicensed commercial fishing (UCF) in Europe,
I am confident that if these studies were carried out that Mr Borg and his team would soon realise that there is no comparison between the activities of RSA and UCF,
The law abiding and properly Licensed Commercial Fishermen are absolutely right in complaining about UCF activities damaging fish stocks and that UCF "black fish" sales are preventing them from realising a better price for the fish that they land,
You could argue that if UCF activities were stamped out that many of our quota restricted sea fish species would rapidly recover to more sustainable levels,
What the commercial fishermen have failed to do is to understand the difference between Recreational Sea Anglers who fish for Sport and their unlicensed counter parts (UCF) who, like them; fish for profit,
It is reported/rumoured that in the Mediterranean alone there are an estimated 100,000 small UCF vessels that are landing directly to restaurants and other back door establishments and it doesn’t take a mathematics genius to work out just how much damage these boats must be doing to the local sea fish stocks and the livelihoods of the properly licensed commercial fishermen,
The main problem as I see it is that in many European countries it is not actually illegal for UCF to sell their catch, unlike here in the United Kingdom where it is illegal for anyone to sell sea fish that are caught from a boat unless they have a license to do so,
I would have thought that the rest of Europe should follow the UK’s lead and introduce legislation to prevent the sale of any sea fish for any reason at all other than by a licensed fisherman, end of story, no selling fish, no trading with fish, no philanthropic sales, no bartering with fish and more importantly No Bloody Loopholes!
I run a charter angling boat out of Weymouth called the Lady Godiva and although my angling customers may very occasionally have a really good day when everything seems to go right for them, most of the time they have an average day when they will take maybe a fish or two home each and sometimes take nothing home at all (often by choice),
However, that is why we call it fishing and not catching,
Almost without exception my anglers accept that sometimes fish don’t always feed when we would like them to and that’s okay, that is how it is and maybe next time they come fishing they will catch that fish of a lifetime or maybe that elusive specie that has eluded them for so long,
When an angler steps aboard my vessel for a days fishing he will be hoping that today will be the day when he catches that fish of a lifetime, that supreme specimen that he has dreamed of catching ever since he took up the sport of sea fishing,
The perception of a days fishing and the reality of a days fishing are very often worlds apart but it is the perception that keeps him coming back to try again and again,
Furthermore, the charter boat skipper is paid a set fee for the boat hire whether fish are caught or not, the same angler, through his expectations, is also supporting the many tackle shops, bed & breakfast establishments, eating houses and pubs etc..
Article 47 has the potential to destroy that perception and must be either withdrawn or seriously rewritten so as to properly target the guilty UCF and not the innocent RSA.
I started this article by stating that "It is not difficult to understand just why Joe Borg and his team want to impose radical new legislation against "recreational" sea fishing,"
Hopefully by now the message that many of us have tried to drive home, that the term "Recreational" is wholly inappropriate when used to describe the activities of Unlicensed Commercial Fishermen, will by now have been fully understood.
Unlicensed Commercial Fishing is not practiced as a hobby, as a pastime or for pleasure,
Unlicensed Commercial Fishing is carried out for profit, the more they catch, the more they earn!
Here in the UK many citizens are highly sceptical and very suspicious of unnecessary legislation dreamt up by the Brussels Beaurocrats,
Article 47 only serves to strengthen the argument that the UK would be better off by withdrawing from the EU altogether,
The UK Independence Party have had an absolute field day with Article 47 finding it extremely easy to discredit the architects of this latest sample of Brussels Bungling and have used this to their advantage to create political allies from those ordinary citizens here in the UK that see Article 47 for just what it is, Unwanted, Unnecessary, Undemocratic, Unfair and Unworkable.
Director of the Professional Boatmans Association.
Secretary of the Weymouth & Portland Licensed Skippers Association.
Newly signed up member of the UK Independence Party.