Landing Obligation — Seafish

Landing Obligation

How to effectively introduce the landing obligation is one of the most difficult issues facing the fishing industry under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

In 2009 the Commission launched a wide-ranging debate on the way that EU fisheries are managed. The new CFP came into effect 1 January 2014. A key element of the reformed CFP is the progressive elimination of discards in EU fisheries through the introduction of a landing obligation to be progressively introduced from 1 January 2015. This constitutes a new regime in European fisheries management and making this work for every part of the fleet has required a great deal of work - for both industry and government - to prepare for full implementation of the landing obligation.

To allow fishermen to adapt to the change, the landing obligation has been introduced gradually, between 2015 and 2019 for all commercial species (managed by quota species, or with minimum sizes) in European waters. Under the landing obligation all catches have to be kept on board, landed and counted against quotas. Undersized fish cannot be marketed for human consumption but do count against quota.

The landing obligation is being applied according to target species and gear type in a transitional period up to 2019 with full implementation in place from 1 January 2019.

Details of the implementation have been included in multiannual plans or in specific annual discard plans when no multiannual plan is in place. These include details on the species covered, provisions on catch documentation, minimum conservation reference sizes, and exemptions (for fish that may survive after being returned to the sea), and specific de minimis discard allowances under certain conditions.

There are a number of documents and links below which explain generally what is meant by the landing obligation and the legislative framework.

For more information and general guidance at EU and regional level see:

·    Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF)

·    North Sea Advisory Council

·    North Western Waters Advisory Council

·    Pelagic Advisory Council

·    EU Guidance on discarding and the landing obligation

·    The EU DiscardLess project

General guidance at UK level:

·    MMO/Defra for 2019

·    MMO/Defra for 2016-2018

·    Marine Scotland

·    DAERA

·    Welsh Government

Evidencing the landing obligation

The Catch Quota Management Scheme (CQMS) or fully documented fishery (FDF) as it is often now referred to, is a means by which managers and industry can evidence compliance with the landing obligation.  Catch Quota Trials have been taking place over the last few years, mostly with cod. These trials use on-board video cameras (CCTV). Under the trials all caught fish of the relevant species were recorded, counted against quota and had to be retained on board and landed. Fishermen had to document and account for every fish caught. Seafish has produced specific case studies on how these trials have been conducted. The case studies are below.

For further information see:

·    Marine Scotland

·    Marine Management Organisation

We have also created a number of pages which look at more specific aspects of the implementation of the landing obligation:

·    In the North Sea

·    In North Western Waters

·    Onshore implications

Further info

Seafish briefing notes can be found below.


For further information contact Karen Green