A summit has been held in Brussels to discuss the importance of recreational fishing across Europe, highlighting its economic and social benefits. The event was the 'inaugural meeting of a new group in the European Parliament on Recreational Fishing and the Aquatic Environment. MEPs heard about the wide ranging positive impact that recreational fishing has. Paul Brannen, Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East represented the region at the event and heard how encouraging recreational fishing is both beneficial to local economies and to participants' health and wellbeing.
Keynote speakers at the event were Mike Heylin, Board Member of the European Anglers Alliance and Mark Owen, Head of Freshwater Affairs, Angling Trust. The event highlighted that there are 25 million people across Europe who engage in recreational fishing in an industry that employs around 437,000 people directly and 800,000 people indirectly and is worth €40 billion in turnover per year.
Paul Brannen MEP said "Fishing is a very popular pastime and it is easy to see why - it is a great outdoors activity that has clear health benefits. Recreational fishing is becoming an increasingly diverse sport, with more women and young people getting involved as well as people from a range of ethnic backgrounds."
"Fishing has the potential to boost local economies, too, with money spent on equipment such as clothing or fishing rods. There is also great potential in fishing tourism for hotels and travel and other associated businesses such as cafes and local pubs."
"Recreational fishing has also brought environmental benefits as pressure has built to achieve higher river quality standards."
"For the North East we perhaps need to be more switched on to the potential of fishing, not just as a leisure activity for local people that encourages them to get out into our beautiful countryside, but also in encouraging people to come to the North East to fish from all over Europe and beyond."
"I suggested that MEPs are offered fishing lessons so that we can all play our part in this popular and growing activity."