On 13 November 2018, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) published guidance for the fishing industry on the final phase of the landing obligation ('discard ban'). This comes into force from 1 January 2019 and will bring an end to the practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea.
The landing obligation applies to all fishing vessels, including those under 10 metres in length, but it does not apply to recreational fisheries. All quota species of all sizes must be landed and counted against quota unless exemptions apply. Non-quota species can continue to be discarded.
General guidance is given on:
- Fish that must be discarded;
- Fisheries that are not affected by the landing obligation;
- Fisheries that have limited exemptions;
- Catch composition;
- Quota limits;
- General exemptions;
- Fishery specific exemptions;
- Fishing gear - new technical gear requirements are mandatory for some Irish Sea fisheries from 1 January 2019 and for Celtic Sea fisheries from 1 July 2019;
- Recording catches;
- Recorded discards (where permissible) will not count against your quota;
- Storing catches; and
- Enforcement - outlining the MMO's approach.
The guidance is based on the current legislation and further changes may be made following the 2018 December Council negotiations. Fishermen are therefore advised to check the guidance regularly. Guidance on the landing obligation can also be found on the European Commission's website.