Landing obligation

The landing obligation is a ban on discarding unwanted catches at sea. First implemented in 2013 it is now fully in force across the EU. 

The Fisheries Secretariat is working to develop, align and simplify future regulations related to the landing obligation (such as technical measures). Our aim is to reduce:

  • Environmental impacts
  • Wasteful discarding
  • Unintended fishing mortality

When correctly implemented, the obligation to land all catch should also provide the data needed to estimate total fishing mortality – enabling scientists to provide a better understanding of the state of the stocks.

Banning discarding at sea is a tremendous shift in traditional fisheries management, which typically involved discarding all unwanted catch under many assumptions ranging from high survivability on release, to inexhaustible seas, to management simply not knowing what else to do.



The landing obligation is being implemented in phases as defined in Article 15 of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (EU 1380/2013).

Through the ambitious Common Fisheries Policy reform process, concluded in 2013, the EU decided to ban discarding of all harvested species. A number of existing laws needed amending to bring them in line with the landing obligation. This was accomplished through the Omnibus Regulation (2015/812) passed in 2015. Additional refinement of regulations is ongoing.

From January 2015, the Baltic fisheries targeting salmon, cod, sprat, and herring, and other EU-wide fisheries targeting certain pelagic stocks are obliged to land all catch under this new law. The landing obligation is fully in force across the EU from 2019.

However, there is a lack of compliance with the landing obligation. We know from several sources* that in 2017 the fishing pattern in the Baltic had still not changed at all, and that discarding continued. For example, the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) identified the demersal trawls operating in the western Baltic cod fishery as the highest discard risk group in the region.


What we do

FishSec works to improve fisheries controls and advocates for Remote Electronic Monitoring in order to secure the implementation of the landing obligation.


* European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and EU Comission Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF)


Last updated: May 11, 2023

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