Discarding and the landing obligation
Discarding is the practice of returning unwanted catches to the sea, either dead or alive, either because they are too small, the fisherman has no quota, or because of certain catch composition rules. The new CFP does away with the wasteful practice of discarding through the introduction of a landing obligation. This change in regime serves as a driver for more selectivity, and provides more reliable catch data. To allow fishermen to adapt to the change, the landing obligation will be introduced gradually, between 2015 and 2019 for all commercial fisheries (species under TACs, or under minimum sizes) in European waters.
Under the landing obligation all catches have to be kept on board, landed and counted against the quotas. Undersized fish cannot be marketed for human consumption purposes.
The landing obligation will be applied fishery by fishery. Details of the implementation will be included in multiannual plans or in specific discard plans when no multiannual plan is in place. These details include the species covered, provisions on catch documentation, minimum conservation reference sizes, and exemptions (for fish that may survive after returning them to the sea, and a specific de minimis discard allowance under certain conditions). Quota management will also become more flexible in its application to facilitate the landing obligation.
In October 2014 the Commission has adopted five discard plans (through so-called delegated acts) in preparation of the implementation of the landing obligation that is applicable from 2015 on (pelagic and industrial fisheries in all Union waters, and fisheries for cod in the Baltic).
Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1392/2014 of 20 October 2014 establishing a discard plan for certain small pelagic fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea
Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1393/2014 of 20 October 2014 establishing a discard plan for certain pelagic fisheries in north-western waters
Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1394/2014 of 20 October 2014 establishing a discard plan for certain pelagic fisheries in south-western waters
Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1395/2014 of 20 October 2014 establishing a discard plan for certain small pelagic fisheries and fisheries for industrial purposes in the North Sea
Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1396/2014 of 20 October 2014 establishing a discard plan in the Baltic Sea