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Fisheries Policy | 1 December 2020

(Lack of) catch documentation under the landing obligation and how exemptions may defeat rather than prove the rule
Fisheries Policy
Wildlife & habitats
Fisheries & Seafood

PDF | 268 kb

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(Lack of) catch documentation under the landing obligation and how exemptions may defeat rather than prove the rule

The European Union’s landing obligation, or ‘discard ban’, has been fully in force across EU fisheries since January 2019, following a four-year phasing-in period starting in 2015. This means that EU fishers and those from non-EU countries fishing in EU waters have to bring to shore almost everything they catch, rather than throwing unwanted fish back into the sea – with a few important exemptions.

The success of the discard ban in achieving its goals – including a gradual elimination of discarding, the avoidance and minimisation of unwanted catches, and a robust picture of total catches – depends on its effective implementation, especially in terms of reliable monitoring. Unfortunately, compliance remains at best patchy, but most likely poor, and comprehensive, robust catch documentation is lacking. Moreover, the many exemptions from the rule make it even more difficult to monitor what is really happening out at sea.

This briefing gives an overview of reporting requirements regarding catches and discards and highlights issues related to exemptions. Finally, it provides recommendations for how decision-makers should address these issues, especially when setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs).

Links: This briefing is part of a series of 8 briefings about some technical, but important key aspects of TAC-setting. The briefing series is designed to help decision-makers set sustainable TACs in line with science and the law.

Setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs) in the context of the Landing Obligation

Let's get the numbers right: What proportion of fish stocks are sustainably managed in the EU?

Ask the right question, get the right answer: Scientific advice for bycatch or non-targeted stocks that have zero catch advice

What is the ‘best available scientific advice’ for setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs)?

Caution! A TAC-Setter’s Guide to the ‘Precautionary Approach’

How (not) to implement the ecosystem-based approach when setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs)

Linking the law to biological reference points used in scientific advice when setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs)

For an evaluation of the TACs agreed at December Council for 2015-2020 please refer to ClientEarth’s comprehensive report: Taking stock 2020 – are TACs set to achieve MSY?