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Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Sunday, 18 January 2009

Fishy business

Ben Woolvin
The Politics Show South West

Sea angling is a sport largely free from the tentacles of government bureaucracy. Unlike their freshwater colleagues, sea anglers do not even need to buy rod licences. But things could be about to change.

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Sea anglers have always had the freedom to fish at will off our coast, but new European legislation may change all that...

The European Union now wants to bring anglers into the quota system.

Commercial fishermen, of course, are already subject to strict quotas limiting the number of fish they can take from the sea.

But, at the moment, people who fish for pleasure are free to take home whatever they catch.

Big business

Chartered sea fishing trips are big business in the South West, but the European Commission is worried about the impact these recreational anglers are having on fish stocks.

The commission has come up with new proposals to protect endangered species like Sole.

Anglers would, for the first time, be included in the Common Fisheries Policy.

Angler
Tight quotas for tight lines

The proposals would mean every recreational boat skipper would have to apply for a licence.

While there is concern about quotas, the anglers say their biggest fear is the paperwork.

European issue

The European Commission says in some member states recreational fishermen are making a huge dent in fish stocks.

In Germany research has shown the amount of fish caught for pleasure is equal to half the commercial quota.

Angler
Is European legislation along the right line?

Anglers in the South West insist their impact on the environment is minimal.

The European Commission says the new rules will only apply to species that are over-fished and should not make a big difference to anglers in the South West.

The fishermen say they want too to protect long-term fish stocks, but they remain to be convinced by the Commission's tactics.

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