Landing Obligation under the CFP
The gradual adoption of the landing obligation, under the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), into the European fishing fleet commenced with the pelagic fisheries on 1 January 2015.
In general terms, fishing vessels must land what they catch, it is illegal for vessels to discard catches of any species, subject to exemptions and catch limits.
The obligation is somewhat far reaching in a geographical sense. The obligation applies to fish caught in EU waters or by an EU fishing vessel outwith EU waters which are not subject to another countries’ jurisdiction.
All catches must be ‘recorded, landed and counted’ against that vessel’s quota. Over time the industry may see changes with regard to the quota management systems and buying, selling and leasing as fishermen look to obtain additional quota to cover catches that must be landed under the landing obligation which would not have been landed previously.
Exemptions from the landing obligation include species where there is scientific evidence indicating a high survivability rate and also catches falling under the de minimise exemptions.
Marine Scotland has produced guidance for the pelagic fisheries which includes further details of obligations and exemptions. The guidance also indicates that Marine Scotland appreciate that there are sometimes force majeure events would may lead to the necessity to discard. Skippers should ensure that if such an event occurs aboard their vessel, this is fully documented as, together with available evidence, this will be reviewed when the vessel returns to port.