Landing Obligation for Demersal Fisheries
The Landing Obligation was introduced into pelagic fisheries on 1 January 2015 and will be introduced into demersal fisheries from 1 January 2016.
The same general principle applies to demersal fisheries as to pelagic fisheries; no commercial fishing vessel can return any quota species to the sea once caught, all catches must be landed (subject to any exemptions of course).
The Landing Obligation shall apply to certain species as of 1 January 2016 and additional species shall be introduced during 2017 and 2018. By 2019 all vessels will need to land all catches of all quota species, unless an exemption applies.
The types of fishing gear carried shall determine the species a vessel is obliged to land. A list of vessels that are subject to the Landing Obligation shall be compiled in due course and made available to local fishery offices and Producer Organisations.
There are of course exemptions. Non- quota species and prohibited species can be returned to the sea even though caught. Fish already damaged by predators or disease or contaminated fish can also be returned to the sea.
Fish that would previously have been thought to be undersize and were therefore discarded now have to be landed and will be counted against quota unless an exemption applies. Even though these undersize fish are landed, they may not be suitable for human consumption and can therefore not be sold.
Recent months have seen numerous discussions and comments as to how this shall work in practice and it is inevitable that this shall continue as fishermen learn to adapt. A consultation by Marine Scotland in July 2015 has already addressed one such issue, how the Landing Obligation discard transfer quota should be allocated. Marine Scotland offered three options:-
- The discard transfer would be allocated to Producer Organisations on a pre-defined basis;
- The discard transfer would be allocated to Producer Organisations when they had met certain conditions set by Marine Scotland; or
- The discard transfer would be retained nationally and allocated to individual vessels.
Although Option 1 was the most popular among those who responded to the consultation, Marine Scotland has opted for Option 2. Marine Scotland have made it clear however that this is for 2016 only and shall be reviewed during the year.