Fisheries

New discard plans adopted for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea

New discard plans adopted for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea

New discard plans adopted for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea

20/10/2016

The Commission has adopted today two Delegated Regulations establishing discard plans for certain demersal fisheries in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea. 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 Common Fisheries Policy does away with the wasteful practice of discarding through the introduction of a landing obligation . Discard plans are a temporary measure designed to gradually phase-out discards and to put in place the landing obligation.

In the Mediterranean Sea, as of 1 January 2017 the landing obligation will be compulsory for demersal species that define the fisheries and that are subject to a minimum conservation reference size as defined in the "Mediterranean Regulation (Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006). The fisheries targeting hake, red mullet, common sole and deep water rose shrimp in certain areas of the Mediterranean Sea are subject to this provision. The new plan establishes detailed rules for the implementation of the landing obligation in these fisheries, including different levels of "de minimis" exemptions depending on the area and fishing gear used. Under this exemption, operators can discard a small percentage of unwanted catches, given that the costs of their handling would be disproportionate.

The plan also stipulates a number of survivability exemptions, allowing operators to throw back specimen that have a high chance of surviving (for example for sole caught with beam trawls and for scallop, carpet clams and venus shells caught with mechanized dredges). The survivability exemptions last for one year, and Member States are to transmit additional scientific data in the course of 2017 for possible renewal. 

These exceptions were examined by the EU's scientific advisory body, i.e. the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF). All the provisions of the discard plan stem from the joint recommendations drawn up by the Member States concerned namely Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia, after consultation of the Mediterranean Sea Advisory Council.

As far as the Black Sea is concerned, as of 1 January 2017 the landing obligation will be compulsory for turbot fisheries. The plan adopted for this fishery is based on a joint recommendation transmitted by Romania and Bulgaria and assessed by the STECF. It has a duration of three years and foresees a one-year survivability exemption for turbot caught with bottom set gillnets. Romania and Bulgaria are to send additional data in the course of 2017, based on which the survivability exemption may be prolonged in the coming years.