EAA and EFTTA back Angling Trust in opposition to marine protection review
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Two of Europe’s top recreational fishing representative organisations have backed the UK industry’s opposition to a proposal to introduce a blanket ban on sea angling in Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in the region.
The Angling Trust, the representative body for sea anglers in the UK, says that the recently published Benyon Review shows a lack of evidence and points to examples of successful multi-use marine conservation zones elsewhere in the world.
Its opposition to the ban has drawn the support of Europe’s trade body, EFTTA, and the European Anglers Alliance (EAA). Fred Bloot, EAA President, said: “We strongly support our UK member, the Angling Trust, and its comprehensive and well-documented response to the Benyon Review. We hope that its response will be read by many people, not least the advisors and decision-makers involved with MPAs.
“There is no doubt that our troubled seas need a helping hand, but to give the impression – as the review does – that the impact by rod and line fishing is comparable with extractive commercial exploitation such as dredging, trawling and drilling is to misguide our decision-makers and the public, to put it mildly.
“The Angling Trust wanted to be on the panel which produced the review, but its request was denied. Now we see the result. The review receives justified criticism for being biased, which could have been avoided if the Angling Trust had been on the panel.”
EFTTA CEO Olivier Portrat added: “The Angling Trust makes a strong case based on evidence that sea angling is not the problem in HPMAs, but part of the solution. The presence of anglers is important for both economic and monitoring reasons and data collection, which are big cost obstacles according to the Benyon Review.
“It says that to create a robust monitoring and data collection framework within HPMAs, government will need to make available significant resources. Funding requirements are likely to be higher than those directed to existing MPAs.
“Without a proactive attitude towards, and a positive inclusion of, the recreational angling community the HPMAs are deemed to be inefficient or even counter-productive for all the reasons mentioned in the Angling Trust’s response.”
The Trust’s response to the Benyon Review, sent to all Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) ministers, highlights the fact that the review panel failed to include any representatives from the sea angling sector, and further points out that:
• Commercial fishing has been allowed to drive down fish stocks and important habitats have not been effectively managed;
• Sea angling generates considerable economic value yet is too often ignored or marginalised when decisions are taken;
• The panel’s claims that the impact of rod and line fishing are comparable with dredging, trawling and drilling are wholly unsubstantiated;
• There is a more rational solution to deliver conservation objectives and reduce economic pain for coastal communities;
• Ministers should work with recreational angling to examine the potential for multi-use marine protection areas, including specific ‘recreational only’ buffer zones.
In a letter to Environment Secretary George Eustice, Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook requested the rejection of the ‘inaccurate aspects of the report’ and urged that recreational sea fishing become a key stakeholder in site selection, management and monitoring.