Post Brexit Landing Obligation

One of the benefits of leaving the Common Fisheries Policy will be the potential to rethink and redesign the landing obligation. Initially the industry will continue to work under EU retained law, but after 1st January there will be scope to redesign and implement new arrangements tailored to the conditions in UK fisheries. Both Defra and the NFFO have begun work to identify deficiencies in the EU landing obligation and how these could be addressed to inform a more effective and workable UK discard policy. The contents of this paper were discussed at a recent Defra/MMO/NFFO landing obligation forum.

Brussels Takes Stock of Landing Obligation

A seminar in Brussels, organised recently by the European Commission, was held to take stock of the EU landing obligation, which came fully into force for demersal species on 1st January 2019. Around 100 participants presented their views on how the landing obligation was being implemented, what problems remained and what lessons were being learned.

Landing Obligation Forum

A series of meetings between regulators and the fishing industry, to discuss the implementation issues arising from the landing obligation, have now been formalised as the "Landing Obligation Forum." Another name for the forum could be an "in-year implementation/solutions group."

Landing Obligation: Six Months in

It’s early days for the landing obligation, given the magnitude of the changes involved. Ongoing patience and application will be required to address the many outstanding issues, as the new policy is fully integrated into the fisheries management system. The signs are, however, that the fishing industry is responding to the new incentive; improvements in selectivity and avoidance behaviours are widespread.

The EU Landing Obligation: Contingency Planning for Chokes Must Begin Now

December Council. Despite a four-year phase-in, it seems highly unlikely that the Council of Ministers, which begins today, 17th December, will resolve all the outstanding problems associated with the implementation of the landing obligation. 

Landings Obligation: Statement of Intent

The EU landings obligation comes fully into force on 1st January 2019 and will then apply to all quota species, unless a specific de minimis or high survival exemption applies. The full implementation of the landing obligation presents a number of challenges for the fishing industry, fisheries managers, and enforcement authorities, on a scale of magnitude not seen before. The problem of chokes in mixed fisheries, and the challenge of monitoring and controlling fishing activities in diverse fleets across a vast marine environment are at the top of the list of those challenges.

Bass may escape the landing obligation

A consensus seems to be emerging that bass could be excluded from the landings obligation when it comes fully into force on 1st January. The exclusion of the species hinges on an interpretation of the “catch limits” which currently apply to bass. On the face of it, bass should be included in the landings obligation because a range of catch limits apply to different gears in which bass are caught; and the wording in article 15 of the CFP basic regulation which gives force to the discard ban does indeed refer to “catch limits.”

Landing Obligation: No Solution So Far to Choke Problem

The full implementation of the landing obligation – the requirement to land all quota species – is less than nine months away but there is no sign yet that the problem of choke stocks has been resolved. This is the problem faced in mixed fisheries under the landing obligation when exhaustion of quota in one (possibly minor) species will lead to the closure of the fishery as a whole with fleets tied up for the rest of the year. The vessel, member state, or fleets concerned face a double bind: they are not allowed to retain on board the species concerned but neither are they allowed to return it to the sea, unless a specific exemption has been permitted. Chokes could, in theory, halt some fisheries as early as February each year

Path clear to remove quotas for Dab and Flounder: Only a first step says the NFFO

ICES has replied to a special request from the European Commission asking its opinion on whether it would be safe to remove the TAC for North Sea Dab and Flounder.

EU Landings Obligation

The beginning of 2017 and the second year of the progressive implementation of the EU landings obligation, seems like a good point to stand back and assess how things are going and what the outlook is for the future. Fisheries Minister, George Eustice, has signalled that it his wish that the UK post-Brexit, should retain “the principle of a discard ban”. This suggests that the UK will remain fully engaged with the EU on implementing the landings obligation, through to 2019, although post-Brexit there may be opportunities for the UK’s specific arrangements to move in a different direction.

North Sea Discard Plan for 2017

North Sea Member States have now submitted their Joint Recommendation for the Discard Plan for 2017/18 to the Commission. The Joint Recommendation will now be transposed into a Delegated Act and all other things being equal, it will be adopted before the end of the year and come into force on 1st January

North Western Waters Discard Plan for 2017

The North West Waters member states have now submitted their Joint Recommendations to the Commission for a Discard Plan for 2017. This will be adopted as a delegated act and if not challenged will come into force on 1st January 2017,

Advisory Councils Publish Advice on the Landing Obligation Both warn about chokes ahead

The North Sea and North West Waters advisory councils have both published their advice on the next phase of the landings obligation. Both have pinpointed chokes as the major problem ahead in mixed fisheries.

Demersal Landings Obligation applies from 1st January

The EU landings obligation will come into force on 1st January 2016.

Enforcement of the Landings Obligation

The NFFO recently participated in a major seminar in Roskilde, Denmark, organised by the European Fisheries Control Agency, on how the EU landings obligation, which will be phased into effect for demersal species from 1st January 2016, will be monitored and controlled. The NFFO’s contribution to the conference, both directly and through the advisory councils, was based on the following paper:

NFFO Response: Defra Consultation on the Implementation of the EU landings Obligation

The EU landings obligation, enshrined in the CFP reform of June 2013, was the result of a toxic mix of political opportunism, misinformation, and cynical manipulation of legitimate public concern.

What will the landings obligation mean for me? Will there be time to adapt?

Two perfectly reasonable questions are being asked across the industry, as the deadline for applying the landings obligation to the whitefish sector looms closer. This article will not provide the answers to those questions. It can only shed some light on the process under way that may, in time, provide the answers.