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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Managing fish stocks - Discarding and the landing obligation

Landing obligation - and ban on discards of catches that it entails - is one of the key elements resulting from the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The Commission proposal paves way for a speedy implementation of the ban on discards. The PECH Committee will present the draft report on landing obligation at the next committee meeting on 16 October.



The film explains what discards are and describes different ways of improving selectivity, based on two langoustine fisheries, one in the Bay of Biscay (Brittany, France) and the other in Skagerrak (Gotland, Sweden). It also reveals the most important measures proposed by the European Commission to reduce by-catches and discards.

Discarding is the practice of returning unwanted catches to the sea, either dead or alive, either because they are too small, the fisherman has no quota, or because of certain catch composition rules. The new CFP does away with the wasteful practice of discarding through the introduction of a landing obligation. This change in regime serves as a driver for more selectivity, and provides more reliable catch data. 

To allow fishermen to adapt to the change, the landing obligation will be introduced gradually, between 2015 and 2019 for all commercial fisheries (species under TACs, or under minimum sizes) in European waters. Under the landing obligation all catches have to be kept on board, landed and counted against the quotas. Undersized fish cannot be marketed for human consumption purposes. The landing obligation will be applied fishery by fishery. 

Details of the implementation will be included in multiannual plans or in specific discard plans when no multiannual plan is in place. These details include the species covered, provisions on catch documentation, minimum conservation reference sizes, and exemptions (for fish that may survive after returning them to the sea, and a specific de minimis discard allowance under certain conditions). Quota management will also become more flexible in its application to facilitate the landing obligation.

TtGaps comment:
In the UK the most concerned fishermen are those that operate in what are referred to as 'mixed fisheries' - typically bottom or demersal trawling - where the boat is fishing for a broad range of fish that inhabit the sea bed and not just targeting a single species as many pelagic trawlers or netters might. In a mixed fishery the spectre of 'choke species' looms large - where are single species of fish for which there is a small or non-existent quota is being caught which then prevents the boat from fishing in that area. At certain times of the year and in many areas this will be a constant problem for many vessels - and, as yet, an answer to the problem has yet to be found!

There are many references to be found on the web relating to this thorny subject:

http://www.fishermensvoice.com/archives/0311GroundfishermenFaceEconomicDisaster.html  

http://en.fvm.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/ENGLISH_FVM.DK/Themes/Yield_of_fish/Calculating_effects_of_choked_species.pdf 

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100602/full/465540a.html 

https://www.linkedin.com/groups/ON-CHOKE-SPECIES-3971738.S.106903949 

http://www.clientearth.org/reports/simply-mixed-fisheries.pdf 

Client Earth Paper 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/faf.12079/abstract