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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

What Discard Ban? - read Defra's Demersal fishing factsheet!

Latest news from Defra on the Landing Obligation:






The discard ban, which will stop the throwing of perfectly good fish, dead, back overboard, is one of the most important changes to fisheries management in the last decade the UK played a key role in EU negotiations to secure this reform.

The discard ban has already come into force successfully for mid-water pelagic species like mackerel and herring, and in January 2016 it will come into force for seabed, demersal species Following the introduction of the ban in phases, a full discard ban – otherwise known as the ‘landing obligation’ - will be in force from January 2019.

Will fishermen who catch demersal species have to land every fish they catch?

No. We are working to ensure industry has time to adapt and fish more selectivity as the ban is

There will also be a gradual introduction for fishermen targeting specific demersal species, so whether the ban applies to an individual fisherman will depend on:
- what fishing gear they use
- what species is being targeted
The demersal discard ban will not be introduced for all species in one go.

Why have landing obligations for pelagic and demersal fish been implemented at different groups, in mid -water, making them easier to target and a ‘cleaner fishery’.

The discard ban process began with pelagic species as these fish swim together in species. Demersal species such as sole, haddock, hake and whiting are found closer to the sea bed and do not swim in shoals making it more complex to catch individual species.

How is the discard ban enforced?

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is responsible for fisheries policy enforcement.

Will the discard ban place a burden on fishermen?

We are working closely with industry and the EU to ensure the discard ban is applied proportionately and works in practice for all fishermen.

That’s why we consulted with industry on the introduction of the ban and our response sets out plans to help fishermen adapt through:

 European Maritime and Fishing Funding – available to fishermen to purchase or develop new and innovative gears for more selective fishing and to help industry develop markets for the fish that were previously discarded.

 Increased quotas from the European Commission - to take account of the fact that discarding should no longer be occurring.

 Quota management flexibilities – allowing quota managers the flexibility to bank and borrow quota between years to help them adapt to the discard ban.

 Exemptions – The UK secured exemptions to the discard ban to help our fleet. These are based on the survivability of a species once caught – such as prawns caught in pots - or if there are disproportionate costs – i.e for landing very small quantities of undersized fish.


Fishermen are also permitted to discard:
- Fish damaged by predators which could lead to the spread of disease
- Contaminated fish which are unfit for human consumption
Fishermen must continue to discard prohibited species, such as sharks and whales. What exemptions are available to fishermen are set out within our guidance. All exemptions need to be based on scientific evidence and we will continue to work closely with industry to understand their needs in the future years.


Will North Sea Cod be exempt?

North Sea Cod is not included within the landing obligation in 2016. North Sea Cod catches are currently controlled by quotas and the cod recovery plan. Cod will be subject to the discard ban in future years. We are working with Member States and industry to establish when to include cod


How will this support smaller fishermen?

The phasing in of the discard ban and the exemptions secured have been informed by the smaller, inshore fleets. For example the UK secured an exemption for the inshore netting fleet targeting

Additionally, the UK government has decided to allocate the first 100 tonnes and 10% of anything more of the quota uplift to the inshore fleets as evidence suggests their biggest reason for discarding is lack of quota. This therefore forms an important part of the Government’s Manifesto Commitment to support smaller fishing communities.

Fishing is regulated by the setting of quota each year at EU Council in December. These negotiations rely on the latest science on stock levels to agree appropriate fishing levels per


Will this change as a result of the discard ban?

We expect fishermen to receive increased quotas from the Commission to take account of the fact that discarding should no longer be occurring. If fishermen fish selectively, using all their knowledge and expertise, they can use this uplift to land good quality, high value fish, increasing


What happens in the long-term?

There will be ongoing discussions in the EU to agree further phasing-in of the ban for 2017 and 2018 – and by 2019 all quota species will be subject to the discard ban.

Another key commitment of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy is to fish at sustainable levels.

Alongside the quota system, the discard ban will play a crucial role in delivering this commitment as fishermen reduce the number of juvenile fish they catch, allowing the fish to reproduce and

The latest guidance on the demersal landing obligation can also be accessed on the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) website.


Date Activity

1 January 2015 Pelagic discard ban began

Spring 2015 Demersal discard ban consultation

A consultation opened earlier this year seeking views on how we should implement the demersal landing obligation in England.  This was accompanied by a ‘tour’ of coastal towns and ports to discuss the impacts of the landing obligation.

October 2015 Launch of the Government policy on the demersal discard ban Setting out the new measures to help fishermen adapt to the introduction of the ban.

December 2015 EU December Council 

The amount fishermen can catch is decided each year at EU level. In light of the start of the demersal discard ban, we will be negotiating to ensure we get an appropriate uplift in quota in recognition that fishermen will be fishing more sustainably and landing everything they catch.

1 January 2016 Demersal Discard Ban  

The first year of the demersal landing obligation will be in force.  Fishermen who are subject to the discard ban in 2016 will have to abide by the new rules.