The next phase of the landing obligation, also known as the ‘discard ban’, comes into force from 1 January 2018.
The Marine Management Organisation has provided guidance for the fishing industry to help them comply with the next phase of the discard ban. This outlines which fish come under the landing obligation, what fishermen have to do with them on board, and which can be sold for human consumption.
The new developments will see more fishing vessels captured by the landing obligation as thresholds for inclusion are reduced or removed for some fish species. There are also changes around exemptions for some vessels, in particular where scientific evidence indicates that an increase in selectivity of species is hard to achieve and around unwanted catches for certain gear types.
For 2018, the UK Government has worked to maintain, and in some cases extend, exemptions allowing fish with high survival rates to be discarded as well as some unwanted catches that are difficult to avoid. In addition, the MMO will continue to apply a fair and proportionate approach to enforcement.
The development is the latest phase of the wider discard ban which will bring an end to the practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea. The landing obligation was initially introduced in January 2015 for certain pelagic fisheries. All quota species will be phased in under landing obligation rules by 2019.
Guidance on the landing obligation can also be found on the European Commission’s website.
Financial support from the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) may be available to help fishermen adapt and comply with the landing obligation. Further information is available on the MMO website.