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Land Obligations/Discards Ban

The Landing Obligation

The practice of discarding is a complex, global problem where unwanted catches are returned to the sea for a number of reasons including quota restrictions, high grading (choosing to keep the most valuable fish), minimum landing sizes and market conditions.

One of the key elements of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the phased introduction of a landing obligation, or discard ban, for species subject to catch limits.  The new CFP also introduced a regional approach to decision-making to move away from the former “one size fits all” approach and allow the introduction of measures appropriate to regions.  Under the regionalisation process, Ireland and the other Member States of the North Western Waters Region (Belgium, France, the Netherlands, UK and Spain) work together to agree a discards plan. The Group also worked closely with the North Western Waters Advisory Council and the Pelagic Advisory Council in finalising a plan.

To facilitate the effective implementation of the landing obligation at a national level, Minister Coveney established the Discards Implementation Group, under the chairmanship of Dr. Noel Cawley, consisting of representatives of all relevant industry stakeholders.  The primary aim of the group is to ensure that the Irish fishing industry is fully prepared for, and engaged in, the implementation of the discards ban.

The first part of the landing obligation, the discard ban for pelagic stocks, came into effect from the 1st January 2015.  The landing obligation will be extended to certain demersal species from the 1st January 2016 and will apply to all TAC species by 2019. The agreed phasing in period, up to the 1st January 2019, means that fishermen will have time to adjust and implement changes that will allow for the avoidance of non-target species.  The development of appropriate measures that enable fishermen to avoid juvenile or unwanted catches will be very important in the successful implementation of the policy.