The landing obligation is being phased in under the EU's reformed Common Fisheries Policy. Under the new rules, fishermen will progressively be required to land all fish they catch. Pelagic fisheries were brought under the landing obligation in January 2015, and the landing obligation was extended to some demersal fisheries in the Atlantic and North Sea as from 1 January this year.
According to first reports from Member States, the landing obligation in pelagic fisheries has experienced very few implementation issues. But understanding in other areas, e.g. for larger demersal fisheries, is still limited.
Opening the conference, European Commission Director General for Fisheries, João Aguiar Machado, therefore encouraged participants to share their experiences with the landing obligation so far and to tell the European Commission what was – and what wasn't – working.
Looking ahead, not least at the planned phase-in of the landing obligation in the Mediterranean and Black Sea as from 2017, Mr Machado stressed the need for proactive thinking, flexibility and regional collaboration to resolve practical problems that might arise.
"The landing obligation is new, for all of us. So we are still very much in a phase of learning by doing. We need to be open and flexible in our approach to finding practical arrangements. But – and I insist on this – we must apply the rules of the CFP, and we must apply them consistently. Today we have an opportunity to discuss how best to do so," he concluded his remarks.