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FISHERIES : MEPS APPROVE RULES TO CONTROL RECREATIONAL FISHING.

Greater control over recreational fishing is the gist of the measures approved, on 22 April, by the European Parliament (consultation procedure) in revising the Common Fisheries Policy's community control system. MEPs backed rapporteur Raul Romeva I Rueda (Greens-EFA, Spain), whose report stresses that "it would be discriminatory to subject commercial fisheries to strict controls and limits while largely exempting non-commercial fisheries".

Recreational fishing is defined as "non-commercial fishing activities for recreation or sport and including, for instance, recreational angling". This measure will put commercial and recreational fishing on an equal footing, which can prove necessary as recreational fishing can sometimes exploit fish stocks. French and German recreational fishers, for example, account for 5,000 and 5,200 tonnes, respectively, of catch per year, according to data collected by the two countries. When such an effect on stocks is noted by an EU member state, which can be done two years after this regulation enters into force, catches will be set against the state's quotas. These checks on fishing are for a stock subject to a multiannual plan, as well as fishing from a vessel (but not fishing with rod and reel from shore).

As for checks on commercial fishing, the Parliament settled on adding provisions allowing the transfer of a member state's unused quotas. The initial plan gave the Commission the power to refuse these transfers if the quota had been exceeded as well as to reduce or even ban fishing by the member state concerned. MEPs believed that that could harm relations between member states.

MEPs confirmed the wide range of sanctions provided for in the draft regulation for breaching the CFP, in particular fines (from 5,000 to 300,000) and giving penalty points' to the ships and captains concerned. In the most serious cases, the latter would be excluded from receiving national public aid or Community subsidies from the European Fisheries Fund. Repeat offenders would also risk having their fishing permits suspended or withdrawn, while the points of those who did not commit another offence would disappear after three years. Data registered electronically will as of now be kept for ten years, instead of three, as was the case before for paper records.

This new regulation, which must now be approved by the Council, will round off the control system, which already includes regulations on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and on fishing authorisations.

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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:May 7, 2009
Words:398
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