Fish landing obligation

The Common Fisheries Policy seeks to reduce unwanted catches of fish and stop the discarding of unwanted fish. From 1st January 2019 the landing obligation applies to all species that are managed by quota limits. The landing obligation applies to all sizes of fish so it is important that actions to minimise catches of under sized fish are continued.

The landing obligation in 2021

As in previous years there are a number of exemptions to the landing obligation, based on survival or de minimis exemptions. The previous EU discard plan (EU Regulation 2239/2019) has been retained, with some minor amendment, into UK legislation. The provisions of this regulation will continue to apply in UK territorial waters.

However there are some general key points:

  • Species which are subject to specific prohibitions should be released unharmed and as quickly as possible.
  • If you fish with traps, pots or creels there is a general survival exemption. You can continue to discard fish and shellfish immediately on capture.

General guidance on the landing obligation is provided below, however guidance for specific fisheries and areas have been produced in conjunction with the other UK devolved fishery administrations. For the Irish Sea these are

There are additional area specific guidance documents for fisheries around the UK available at landing-obligation-2019-rules-and-regulations.

The Department has produced the following guidance for the landing and subsequent handling of catches in Ports and Markets.

Landing Obligation in EU territorial waters.

Under the Trade and Co-operation Agreement UK vessels have access to EU waters, but will be subject to the EU legislation in EU territorial waters. This may mean that there will be some difference in the operation of the landing obligation. The application of the landing obligation in each others territorial waters is current being discussed at the Coastal States negotiations, and additional guidance will be issued once the discussions conclude.

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