Abstract An in-depth explanation of selected content of the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission’s ‘Code of Practice for Recreational Fisheries’ (CoP) is presented. The focus is on core areas that were intensely debated in the drafting the CoP. These include definition of recreational fishing, recreational fishing practices, fish welfare, recreational fisheries management and research. It is anticipated that the CoP for recreational fisheries promotes best practice and management principles for sustainable recreational fisheries, within the recreational fisheries sector and ancillary industries/sectors regionally, nationally, and ultimately globally. To be viable, the CoP for recreational fisheries must be adopted by the international community complementing the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.