The Fisheries Secretariat is working to develop, align and simplify future regulations (such as technical measures) related to the landing obligation, which is a ban on discarding unwanted catch at sea. Our aim is to reduce environmental impacts, wasteful discarding and unintended fishing mortality. The obligation to land all catch, correctly implemented, should provide the data needed to estimate total fishing mortality, enabling scientists to provide a better understanding of the state of the stocks. The landing obligation is being implemented in phases as defined in Article 15 of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (EU 1380/2013).
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. 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 the first obliged to land all catch under this new law. Additional non-target species will be included in the Baltic by 2017. Other regions and fisheries come under the landing obligation stepwise. From 2016 the landing obligation includes targeted species of certain fleet sectors in the North Sea, North Western Waters and South Western Waters, and from 2017 stocks in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and other non-EU waters lacking third country jurisdiction for EU vessels. The landing obligation should be fully in force across the EU by 2019.