EC adopts discard plans

22 Oct 2014
The EC has adopted plans to prepare for the discard ban. Credit: Tony Hisgett/CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The EC has adopted plans to prepare for the discard ban. Credit: Tony Hisgett/CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The European Commission has adopted a series of discard plans to prepare for the discard ban to come into operation on 1 January 2015.

Discarding has been banned by the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which stipulates that fishermen will instead have to land everything that they catch. The five discard plans adopted this week contain some practical rules, as well as a limited number of exemptions, to help fishermen implement the new rules.

The plans cover all pelagic fisheries in EU waters and fisheries in the Baltic and were put together by Member States who developed joint recommendations regionally in the Baltic, North Sea, North Western Waters, South Western Waters, and the Mediterranean.

The discard plans introduce some limited exemptions in certain cases where unwanted fish have a high chance of survival if returned to sea, where increases in selectivity are impossible to achieve, or where fishermen would incur disproportionate costs when handling unwanted catches. However, all fish released back into the sea under the allowed exemptions must still be reported and accounted for.

The discard plans will enter into force on 1 January 2015, after a two-month scrutiny period by the Parliament and the Council. This marks the first phase of the landing obligation which will be introduced gradually between 2015 and 2019 for all commercial fisheries.

Following this first step, the landing obligation will apply to the main target species of demersals in the North Sea and Western Waters on 1 January 2016, and to the main target species of demersals in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and all other fisheries by 1 January 2017. The landing obligation for all other species will apply by 1 January 2019 at the latest. Work has already started regionally to prepare for the second step of the implementation of the landing obligation on 1 January 2016.

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