Interview with Laura Pisano

After the last developments in European policy, we decided to interview Laura Pisano. Laura loves angling but she also has a great passion for Policy. So, she decided to bind these two things and she definitely succeeded in that.

Hi Laura, who are you and what do you do?

I am a woman who practices marine and freshwater recreational fishing and that about ten years ago, started to ask uncomfortable questions and at the same time got involved in policy. Since then, many thing happened: in 2010, due to permanent immobility of our national sportive and recreational fishing associations at European level, we funded APR, becoming members of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) that represents the umbrella for recreational fisheries associations in Brussels.

The everyday work in collaboration with EAA is fostered by my personal interest in policy. It provided me in few years a big knowledge on maritime fishery regulations (recreational and commercial).

Today I have a wide view of the system. I am secretary of APR and since 2011 I am delegate of EAA at the MEDAC that is the most important mediterranean consultancy group concerning European fisheries policy. In 2017, I was nominated vice-president of the MEDAC and in 2018, due to the huge amount of work, the vice-president position was joined by other two people as representatives of NGO and commercials, so I can focus more on recreational fisheries. Finally, since 2018 I am also member of the consultancy table of the Italian ministry of fisheries, MIPAAF.

What are the most important things you have done for marine recreational fisheries?

The reply is quite simple: “we have been there with all our proud and belief”. This seems something implicit, but it is not the case. After our entrance in the MEDAC, other associations followed us: IFSUA and FIPSAS, for example. As representative of recreational fisheries we initially focused our efforts in balancing the decisions between recreational and commercials, with the latter usually being favored. Then, we ended up by taking decisions entirely dedicated to recreational fisheries that were unanimously approved by all MEDAC members. Finally, we also created a permanent MEDAC working group of recreational fisheries coordinated by IFSUA.

All together this is part of the change that is occurring in recreational fisheries at European level that should end up very soon in the recognition of recreational fisheries in fisheries policy as a whole. This was almost done in 2013, being spoiled by the European Council at the last moment (Reg. CE 1380/2013). In other words, all our efforts were focused in the proper recognition of recreational fisheries sector as a stakeholder in the European fisheries policy.

 What happened on the 12th June 2018 at the European Parliament?

In that date the EU commission adopted (with great unanimity) the resolution proposed by the Euro parliamentary, Norica Nicolai, “State of play of recreational fisheries in EU” that represents the output of all recreational fisheries representatives in Brussels. This is not formally a law, but a so called Initiative Report that represents the basis for the future law framework. This text recognizes recreational fisheries as a sector and describes its urgent needs. First of all a clear definition of recreational fisheries is needed in order to differentiate it from subsistence fisheries. This is one of the grey areas still present in the sector. Moreover, in the resolution it is provided a realistic framework for the development of recreational fisheries, including its social aspects, its potentiality and its problems. Moreover, the resolution stressed the fact that recreational fisheries need customized management tools that are not the same of the ones used for commercial fisheries. In summary, the resolution represents a comprehensive picture of where we are and what is needed to align the development of recreational fisheries with the context of the blue economy.

Which are the most important changes in the future for marine recreational fisheries?

The changes have already started with the legislative process related to the new control regulations. There will be more restrictions and control measures such as licenses, more data collection related to key species and the sector will be studied in terms of social and economic aspects. I imagine that this will not be well accepted from a part of recreational fishers, but such measures will not affect so much all the people that comply with current regulations. On the contrary, recreational fishers will be more involved in management, in scientific collaborations and in funded actions if recreational fisheries are considered in the next Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). All together this will allow to easily isolating all the people that are not willing to respect regulations.

I would like to underline that our sector is under attack from a normative perspective, so we need to be able to act in a political way when our rights are not respected. Our entire job allowed us to be mostly covered on those aspects at European level. All fishing activities need to find their path to being sustainable. Marine renewable resources are in drastic decrease and policy has the role to find the correct equilibrium also considering the environmental factors that play a role in this context. Management plans can be seen as a solution, but we must be the players of the future of our beloved activity.