Fishing is a universal sport embraced by all cultures with an intrinsic link to the ocean or any body of water, a fishing road trip strengthens relationships with family, friends, and the environment. Nearly anywhere in Europe would be a superb place to fish, be it in the Mediterranean, the North Sea, or inland Alpine lakes and rivers, but it's important to follow, and understand, the new fishing regulations in Europe. These new regulations have been put in place for the 2014 fishing season to protect various fish species and aquatic ecosystems. This article will make note of some basic regulations for 2014 and explain how you can conveniently enjoy fishing while still respecting these laws. We'll also cover what impact you may have while fishing, and how you can contribute to sustainable fishing in Europe for everyone for years to come.
Purchase a Local Fishing License for 2014
Similar to the United States, as of January 2014, all fresh and saltwater fishing (with the exception of marine sport fishing) in Western Europe requires a license. If you're fishing on privately owned lakes which are managed by private organizations, you may need to also purchase an additional supplement. Don't neglect to purchase a license, it can result in hefty fines and confiscation of your equipment. More importantly, by paying license fees, you're supporting conservation initiatives that promote sustainable fishing and improving the experience for everyone.
In addition to purchasing a fishing license in the country where you are fishing, you'll also need to understand the guidelines and restrictions of where you're fishing. For instance, as of April 2014, lead sinkers are strictly forbidden in all freshwater habitats in the European Union -- check your tackle box and make sure you're only using approved equipment and bait.
Join a Chartered Trip
If you're interested in landing some big-game fish, such as Tuna, Salmon, or Swordfish, consider joining a chartered trip. While these trips can be pricey, you have the benefit of receiving a permit through the vessel to catch these exclusive fish, which can be expensive and time-consuming to acquire as a tourist. Furthermore, the agencies that organize these trips contribute significantly to fishing conservation; they want to promote sustainable fishing so they can remain in business. Joining a chartered fishing trip can allow you to bypass local regulations that have moratoriums for certain species in certain areas (such as within 15 miles of the coast), having an expert guide who understands the up-to-date rules can bring you to perfect fishing spot, which can save you time, money, and allow you to fish species that may otherwise be inaccessible.
Know Where You're Fishing
Different countries, regions, and individual fisheries may have different management methodologies and/or regulations for managing fish stocks, so take the time to do some research and understand input controls, such as rules on access to waters and technical measures that regulate gear usage, and output controls (fishing quotas) that are constantly being revised. Also take the time to understand the ecosystem you're fishing, not just for conservation purposes, but so you know exactly what species for you're trying to catch, and what methods would be appropriate to catch them (bait type, line strength, etc.).
Know When To Release & What To Eat
Statistics from the European Commission of Fishers paint a bleak picture of rampant over fishing in the Mediterranean for 2014, and if you find yourself fishing there (or anywhere else), know what you can release and what you can keep, because there are many repercussions, legal, ecological, and economical. The price of seafood is rooted in quota agreements between fishing nations and extra-governmental organizations (supply), as well as demand. When unable to reach the supply quota and demand is high, seafood prices skyrocket. When unlicensed and non-commercial fishermen violate quotas, the price will also skyrocket as over fishing ensues. By knowing when to release and when you can keep your catch, you can help stabilize the price, which makes for a tasty yet reasonably-priced seafood meal if you find yourself dining out while on vacation.
In short, understanding European fishing regulations during the 2014 season requires geographic context and careful research. This post is simply meant to be a guideline for responsible fishing. I'll be heading to the Youghal estuary with an Ireland car rental for my fishing vacation this year, make a point to fish somewhere new this year!