The opinion adopted by the MEDAC (Mediterranean Advisory Council) on the establishment of minimum regulations for recreational fishing in the Mediterranean Sea has sparked strong reactions on social networks.
Remember that this opinion was commissioned by the European Commission as part of the establishment of the future Common Fisheries Policy which will come into force next year for a period of four years.
In addition, it should be noted that an opinion is intended to guide future bills and is in no way definitive. Behind this “ground movement” is actually a background work carried out by the European national federations or even the EAA (European Anglers Association) and the EFTTA (the association representing the recreational fishing industries) who have been campaigning for the recognition of the socio-economic weight of our leisure for many years. In particular, it should finally be recognized, in the same way as that of professional fishing, and integrated into the European system for allocating fishing opportunities (TACs). It should be remembered that the quotas are defined by each Member State for its population, and in particular by maritime area. But to integrate this framework, the EU would like in return to know better the recreational ones, in particular via monitoring and control tools, like a fishing permit. A measure that obviously does not leave Mediterranean and Atlantic fishermen indifferent.
Interview by Lucas Vallois
A fishing guide in the Mediterranean
“First of all, I would like to be clear about the sea license: it is a measure that does not shock me and that does not cause me any concern. However, everyone knows the problem here in the Mediterranean area. If the fault is often thrown on the professionals, whether they fish in the Mediterranean or the Atlantic, it is not an easy solution.
Certainly, within the population of fishermen-boaters, bad apples tarnish our image, like some amateurs who do not hesitate to deposit undeclared nets with the competent authorities. But in my opinion the impact of professional fishing is incomparable to ours. In fact, no one dares to speak out about these behaviors which have no place to be.
Here it is the “far west”, where the reason of the strongest is the best, where the threats are daily. Recently, in the context of my fishing activity, I witnessed, as often unfortunately, a round of threats from a professional fisherman which was followed by a wild deposit of nets but this time 20 meters from the edge… all this because they saw me catching fish from the edge. In addition to being nurseries for juveniles, these border sectors – which can communicate either with watercourses or even saline ponds – are also passageways for migratory fish such as sea bream…
And this little game happens regularly. Other recreational people can testify to these illegal acts. In this regard, I would also like to point out that the DTM prefers to control boaters. Would they be more cooperative? Finally, beyond these more than recurring phenomena, it is the resource that is at stake. Finally, we have more and more tuna thanks to conservation measures in particular. On the other hand, with regard to the sea bass and the sea bream, it becomes really worrying. There was a time the size of the fish was more than honorable.
Today it becomes really difficult to make mesh fish. It would then be necessary to apply what we have done for tuna, that a derogation from maritime affairs be put in place to collect endangered species, whether for amateurs or professionals. No one should fall through the cracks. It would be necessary for example to apply daily quotas, to apply a mesh for the wolf, 35-40 cm, and especially to respect the moment of the reproduction. I hope that we stop this carnage and that the regulations make sense for everyone because we are pulling the rug from under our feet. »
Guillaume Fourrier, fisherman and author for PEM
Naturally I do not reserve a warm welcome to this idea of eating away at the notion of freedom that has always accompanied sea fishing. Being ticketed for just going fishing is a bad sign. We will fish by the sea or offshore spontaneously as we will walk in the woods or in the mountains.
It’s a breath of fresh air, a healthy passion, free since the dawn of time… There are enough rules to respect with legal catch sizes, quotas, the number of hooks in fishing action, access in less and less tolerated port areas, Natura2000 areas, wind farms and posture ecologists who put labels on our backs…
We are gradually moving towards restrictive laws because of nuisances for which we are not or little responsible, in particular stories of overfishing. We let the industrial fleets do considerable damage and we hit small-scale fishing, artisans and recreational fishermen. Indeed, it is easy to point the finger at the fishermen at sea who are numerous but poorly federated. When a new restrictive law arrives, we feel helpless because there is no entity to carry the voice of the millions of fishermen on foot and with a rod that we are.
It is in this context that the sea fishing permit would make it possible to federate us under a single entity in the same way as the FNPF in fresh water. When its president Claude Roustan addresses the Elysée, he is audible. It officially represents 1.5 million licensees. It’s huge, he weighs almost as much as the president of the FFF (football). If the FNPF included fishermen at sea, it would be the first sports federation ahead of football!
But it seems hard to imagine without a paid sea fishing license. It is at this price that we would be much better defended or listened to by elected officials and this seems to me to be a beneficial solution in the long term. I take this opportunity to salute the work done by Jean Kiffer (FNPP) for so many years and to send my most sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.
Olivier Portrat, General Manager of EFTTA
“I remind you that several countries in Europe, including England, Germany, Spain or Italy for example, have introduced a sea license at an affordable price. This permit would give weight to French fishermen in the distribution of annual quotas, and above all to quantify the activity, both humanly and economically.
Indeed, if we take for example the data communicated by the Catalan maritime affairs and fisheries department, they indicated that in 2019 the catches made by Catalan fishermen (around 50,000 people) represented 5% of the total catches. . Nevertheless, this sector would have generated almost as much economic impact as the commercial fishing sector, ie 86.8% of the value created by professional fishing, approximately 90 million euros.
In this case, and in many others, the added value created by the recreational sector with regard to the environmental impact overshadows the professional activity. However, the war in Ukraine has highlighted Europe’s dependence on certain countries producing basic foodstuffs, such as cereals. As a result, the argument of the socio-economic weight of our leisure risks taking a back seat because commercial fishing could take on a social function, that of feeding the population. »
Stéphane Sence, Managing Director of Gifap, Group of French Fishing Tackle Industries
“The subject of the integration of recreational fishing into the CFP has been on the table for 4-5 years in the EU. Today, as many of your readers know, fishing at sea has no legal framework to establish a permit, unlike the practice in fresh water where skills are listed in the environmental code. Consequently, no text or bill obliges the fisherman at sea to adhere to a structure.
On the other hand, I know that there is a will from the government (Direction des affaires maritimes) to create a single entity which would bring together all the fishermen at sea in a common confederation. Discussions are currently underway to have only one interlocutor at the level of recreational fishermen at sea and spearfishermen. Currently, if I am not mistaken, the FFPS is the only federation offering a sports license at sea with the approval of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
The other federations do not hold this approval, but benefit from quotas, in particular for tuna fishing. As for the sea license strictly speaking, I believe that it would be wise to establish a moderate license in terms of costs which would help sea fishing to finance programs beneficial to fishermen and above all to avoid risky estimates for the quota allocation.
With a permit, the entire maritime sector will have more visibility on our practice, and this will make it possible to pool energies and actions for the defence, promotion and preservation of the environment.
I would also like to remind you that Alain Cadec, former president of the fisheries group at the European Commission, had a European harmonization plan voted for by a digital fishing logbook (recfishing.eu) so that we know the number of catches recreation at sea on a voluntary basis. I am also for this model of monitoring.
In short, what I want is for recreational people to unite by creating a single force in order to structure fishing activity and show the weight of our leisure to decision-makers. Now from a business point of view, companies in the sector will most likely be in favor of a permit, at least declarative, to quantify and influence political decisions, such as quotas and the defense of tomorrow’s issues, in the face of the many lobbies that struggle to restrict our beautiful hobby. »
The FNPPSF: ” We are for integration into the Common Fisheries Policy and for a fishing license provided that it does not represent any cost for the fisherman. »