The Mediterranean Advisory Council (MEDAC) gives advice to the EU Commission and EU Member States. It also gives advice to 23 other states around the Mediterranean Sea via input to the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM).
On the 2nd of March the MEDAC published an opinion on recreational fisheries, which also was submitted to the GFCM. During the prework on the opinion, “it emerged that there was some conflict regarding the use of electromechanical aids in recreational fisheries (e.g. electric reels) with particular reference to demersal species (Pagello bogaraveo // Blackspot seabream). In this regard the MEDAC therefore believes that it is necessary to: Ban the use of passive gear (longlines, traps) and electromechanical aids (electric reels) in recreational fisheries”.
The recreational- and sportfishing organisations have expressed their opposition to banning electric reels in this minority statement are against banning electric reels. A minority statement reads:
“FIPSAS, CIPS and FIPIA opposed the ban on the use of passive gear and electromechanical aids in recreational fisheries.
EAA and IFSUA are opposed to a ban of electromechanical aids because the socio and economic impact of such a ban should be taken into account; e.g. some disabled anglers would suffer from such a ban (social inclusion).”
The MEDAC is made up of European and national organizations representing the fisheries sector (including the industrial fleet, small-scale fisheries, the processing sector and trade unions) and other interest groups (such as environmental organizations, consumer groups and sports/recreational fishery associations) which operate in the Mediterranean area in the framework of the CFP.
The MEDAC is dominated by commercial fisheries interests, which have a voting majority of 60%.
EFTTA finds that an electric reel ban is totally out of proportion. It lacks any proper justification. It is just said that “there was some conflict regarding the use of electromechanical aids in recreational fisheries”. Well, there is always ‘some conflicts’ or disagreement about fisheries between various stakeholders with regard to access to fishing, and who should be allowed to fish how much. EFTTA would like to remind the authorities and fisheries stakeholders, that the marine fishery resource (the fish) is a public resource, not owned by any individual stakeholder. Also, an electric reel is no different from a non-electric reel with regard to impact on the resource or environment
The proposed ban is as ridiculous as if it was suggested to ban engines in commercial fishing vessels, to only allow sails; or to ban all mechanical support on commercial fishing vessels. Though such bans would without doubt do a lot of good for the fish stocks, which are severely depleted in the Mediterranean Sea.
EFTTA additional note
The MEDAC is one of 11 fisheries advisory councils to the EU. The MEDAC is the only council having a dedicated working group for recreational fisheries. The working group has delivered much work and reports of great importance to the sportfishing industry, with more to come. EFTTA appreciates very much that work, but has to react when the majority of MEDAC members adopt a proposal which will do harm to the sportfishing industry without proper justification, like this proposed ban on electric reels.