Pelagic Landing Obligation

From 1 January 2015 pelagic and industrial fisheries (and in the Baltic salmon and cod fisheries) fell under the landing obligation. Under the landing obligation skippers are obliged to land all commercial (quota) species they catch.

From 1 January 2015 pelagic and industrial fisheries (and in the Baltic salmon and cod fisheries) fell under the landing obligation. The fisheries affected are:

  • Pelagic bottom and midwater trawl fisheries targeting herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting, sprat, boarfish and argentine.
  • Purse seine vessels targeting herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting.
  • Handliners targeting mackerel.

It is now illegal for these vessels to discard catches of all species subject to catch limits (a vessel targeting mackerel should also land accidental catches of demersal species, e.g. cod). It remains illegal to slip catches (the releasing of fish before the net is fully taken on board). High-grading (selectively harvesting fish so that only the best quality fish are brought ashore) is also no longer possible under a landing obligation. Catches of prohibited species cannot be retained on board, landed or trans-shipped and must be returned to the sea.

Pelagic fisheries in international waters are also subject to the landing obligation from 1 January 2015 with the exception of fisheries in non-EU waters where there is a legal obligation to discard in an international agreement (e.g. ICCAT rules relating to Bluefin tuna), and in third country waters there is an obligation to follow third country national rules.

There are a number of documents below which explain generally what is meant by the pelagic landing obligation and its legislative framework, and the issues it is raising for the seafood industry.

At EU and regional level

Pelagic Discard Plans

 Discard Atlas

 Guidance at UK level

Seafish briefing notes can be found below. For further information contact Karen Green