Code of Practice
Recreational Fisheries
Phil Hickley
EIFAC Chairman
European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC)
• EIFAC is a statutory body of the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) of the United Nations
• Inter-governmental forum for collaboration and information
exchange on inland fisheries and aquaculture among all
European countries
• Organizations and agencies for inland fisheries periodically
need to seek guidance
• EIFAC serves as a network
• Links policy-makers, managers and scientists working on
inland fisheries and aquaculture issues
• Scientific work is undertaken in Working Parties by
specialists from member countries
EIFAC Working Party
• Recent example
• CoP Recreational
• Working Party output
• Well received
• Being translated into
many local languages
AIM of
Code of Practice for Recreational Fisheries
Provide code of practice that is acceptable to the
recreational fisheries sector and society to:
• Promote sustainable recreational fisheries
• Recognise the ecological, social and economic
• Minimise conflicts with other aquatic resource
user groups
• Respond proactively to fish welfare issues
Recreational Fisheries (1)
• Fisheries sector comprises commercial,
subsistence and recreational fisheries
• Commercial activity has predominated in
marine and inland capture fisheries
• In response to societal
change, the importance of
commercial capture fishing
is decreasing
• Recreation is becoming the
more important beneficiary
of fish stocks
Recreational Fisheries (2)
• In most developed countries recreational fishing
is now the principal form of exploitation
• Approximately a tenth of the population across
all countries engages regularly in recreational
• Provides social, economic and ecological benefit
to society and harvests millions of fish on a
global scale
• In international policy on the sustainable
management of resources, recreational fisheries
have been largely overlooked
Recreational Fisheries (3)
• Recreational fishing has been described as the
ritual pursuit of pleasure
• Two principal components –
– a fishing factor which includes the number and size of
fish caught
– a recreational factor which non-catch components such
as personal satisfaction
• Contributing to satisfaction are senses of freedom,
excitement, relaxation, enjoyment of the natural
• Recreational fishing fulfils a valuable role in raising
environmental awareness
• FAO (1997) defined recreational fisheries as
those in which fishing is conducted by individuals
primarily for sport but with a possible secondary
objective of capturing fish for domestic
consumption but not for onward sale
• An improved definition is: Recreational fisheries
are those where fishing is conducted during times
subjectively defined by the individual as being
leisure and for aquatic animals that do not
constitute the individual’s primary resource to
meet nutritional (physiological) needs
• The recreational fisheries sector is the entire
network of stakeholders
Fishing methods
• Catching fish as a leisure activity
• Any form of fishing gear can be
• Hook and line, gill nets, spears,
bow-fishing and various types of
• Globally, angling with a rod and
line is by far the most common
• Recreational fishing is often
assumed to be synonymous with
• Europe - 25 million anglers, representing 6.5%
of the EU population
• USA - 30 million anglers, half a billion fishing
• Australia - 3.5 million anglers, 19.5% of the
Economic value
• USA - anglers generate $45 billion ($900 angler-1)
in retail sales annually; overall economic impact is
$125 billion and over 1 million jobs
• Europe - annual expenditure by anglers is €25
billion (€1000 angler-1)
• Australia – annual expenditure on recreational
fishing is As$1.8 billion, As$552 fisher-1
• England and Wales - if angling ceased, £130
million ($250 m) in household income and 5,000
jobs would be lost
Management (1)
• The basic fisheries resource needs to be
managed to optimise the social and economic
benefits from its sustainable exploitation
• The resource comprises not just fish stocks but
their habitat and all the economic and social
features of the fisheries which the stocks support
• Two important human and non-human
components: improving the quality of life and
enhancing wildlife
Management (2)
• An ecosystem approach to recreational fisheries
management should be adopted wherever
• The ecosystem approach strives to balance
diverse societal objectives, by taking into account
the knowledge and uncertainties about biotic,
abiotic and human components of ecosystems,
and their interactions
Sector responsibilities (1)
• promote high quality recreational fishing
experiences within the limits set by ecology,
economics and society
• adopt measures for the long term conservation
and sustainable use of recreational fisheries
• adopt the ecosystem approach as the guiding
philosophy and exercise the precautionary
Sector responsibilities (2)
• identify all relevant parties having a legitimate
interest in the recreational fisheries resource
and engage them in the management process
• base recreational fisheries management action
on pre-defined management objectives,
formulated as a recreational fisheries
management plan
• consider all environmental, economic and social
values and impacts in the appraisal of
management measures
Issues for the future (1)
• Participation - necessary to understand types of anglers
• Conflicts between users - Horizontal conflicts between
potential users, vertical conflicts between authorities and
• Stocking - meeting the needs of environment and
fishers can mean conflicting demands
• Non-native species - detrimental effects from the
stocking of non-native fish for recreation
• Fishery collapse and sustainability - recreational
fishing sector also has potential to negatively affect fish
and fisheries
• Urban fisheries - access and opportunity
Issues for the future (2)
• Fish welfare - an important aspect of recreational
fisheries participation and management.
• Public attitudes to angling - public influence is having
increasing impacts in different countries and public
acceptance of recreational fishing is important
• Catch and release - a continuum from mandatory
release of protected sizes and species to voluntary
catch-and-release of non-protected fish
• Education - to help strengthen the sector for the benefit
of fish, the environment and those that enjoy recreational
Codes of Practice
• Voluntary codes of practice existed in some countries
and organisations
• Behavioural, conservation and fish welfare
recommendations appeared in leaflets and guidebooks,
produced either by the authorities or angling
• Australia introduced a national code of practice as a joint
initiative between the authorities and the fourteen
national and state fishing associations
• Perceived need for more international agreement on
good practice
• Facilitated by EIFAC a new international Code of
Practice for Recreational Fisheries was developed
EIFAC CoP for Recreational Fisheries (1)
• FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries Users of living and aquatic resources should conserve
aquatic ecosystems and that the right to fish carries with
it the obligation to do so in a responsible manner so as
to ensure effective conservation and management of the
living aquatic resources.
• EIFAC Code of Practice for Recreational Fisheries to establish best practice principles among nations for
responsible management and fishing practices, taking
into account all relevant biological, technological,
economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects.
EIFAC CoP for Recreational Fisheries (2)
• Has to fit alongside national legislation and regional best
practice guidelines
• Designed to prescribe the minimum standards for
environmentally friendly, ethically appropriate and
socially acceptable recreational fishing
• Works from assumption that recreational fisheries
provide a vital source of recreation, employment, food
and social and economic well-being for people
throughout the world, both for present and future
• Acknowledges that recreational fishing and its
associated social, cultural, psychological and
physiological benefits provide quality of life for its
EIFAC CoP for Recreational Fisheries (3)
• To continue being viable, recreational fishing
must minimize its ecological impacts and
harmonize stakeholder interactions whilst
delivering maximum benefits to the sector.
• The EIFAC Code of Practice for Recreational
Fisheries should facilitate this but it has no
formal legal status; it is a voluntary instrument.
The Role of a Global Code of Practice
Code of Practice
Code of Practice
Code of Practice
The challenge is
to achieve
Code of Practice
Recreational Fisheries
Phil Hickley
EIFAC Chairman

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