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The Landing Obligation & Discarding News: 2014-15

September 2015

  • The Regional Groups for the North Sea and North West Waters have reconvened with meetings of both the technical experts and the High Level Group planned for both areas.

  • The draft delegated regulations for the North Sea and North Western Waters were published by the Commission in October. Member States have identified a number of errors in both documents and are compiling a note of these so that the necessary amendments can be made.

  • The Commission's proposed Discard Plan for NWW and the Commission's proposed Discard Plan for the North Sea are available online. 

  • Marine Scotland officials have used the summer period to examine issues such as Inter-Species Flexibility and Low & Zero TAC stocks, which is helping inform discussions with Defra and the other devolved nations, ahead of the Regional Groups process. The Scottish paper on Inter-Species Flexibility which was shared with the Scottish Discards Steering Group is available online.

  • Marine Scotland officials will be participating in a workshop on Inter-Species Flexibility with other Member States on 04 November.

  • Marine Scotland officials have completed some initial work to assess which species could be introduced next (i.e. from 2017 onwards) within the North West Waters. Marine Scotland has shared its thinking with industry (via the Scottish Discards Steering Group) and has asked for feedback by the end of November.

  • The Scottish Discards Steering Group, comprising representatives from industry and NGOs, met on 23 October.

  • Work continues to produce guidance for the management and operation of the landing obligation in 2016. Draft guidance has been shared with industry and comments sought.

  • The first meeting of GITAG was held on 22 October where ToR was agreed and five project proposals were agreed for trials. Initial trial work is to begin by the end of 2015 with fully-assessed sea trials starting in January 2016.

  • Marine Scotland officials worked with Animal Health and Food Standards Scotland to produce an on shore guidance note, detailing how ABP regulation will be applied to below-MCRS catch under the Landing Obligation. The guidance was originally published at the end of August, was revised in light of comments from industry and information received from the Commission, and re-distributed in October. 

  • Discussions with Producer Organisations (POs) and Associations continue about the detailed operation of licensing and quota management in 2016, as well as the Days at Sea rules.

  • One-to-one sessions between TR1 skippers and Marine Scotland officials on the effects of the landing obligation have concluded and the process assessed, with a view to reflecting on what could feasibly be offered next year.

  • Marine Scotland officials are working to produce clear and concise information to provide stakeholders with the necessary information ahead of the introduction of the demersal LO in January 2016.

  • The Commission has yet to respond to ICES scientific advice for 2016. Their formal proposal is expected in early November. The final set of advice is due for publication on the ICES website on 30 October and will be communicated to industry. The latest advice from ICES is available online.

  • Quota negotiations at an international level continue to run their course and will culminate at December Council. 

July 2015

  • The first annual Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS) Conference focusing on the Landing Obligation took place in St Andrews on 30 July, and was attended by around 100 representatives from the fishing sector, on shore sector, NGOs, Marine Scotland officials and other interested parties. The Cabinet Secretary gave the keynote address at the conference.

  • Hard copies of the leaflet outlining the *details of the Discard Plans from January 2016 onwards are now available from FOs. (*Please note that they are still to be agreed by the Commission.)

  • Marine Scotland officials are working with Animal Health and Food Standards Scotland to produce an on shore guidance note, detailing how ABP regulation will be applied to below-MCRS catch under the Landing Obligation. When ready for publication, we will ensure local environmental health officers are aware of the guidance and that it is disseminated widely. 

  • One-to-one sessions between TR1 skippers and Marine Scotland officials on the effect of the landing obligation have taken place in Fraserburgh and Peterhead.

  • The consultation exercise into how the demersal LO discard transfer should be allocated and managed by the Scottish Government remains open until 18 August.

  • Temporary head of Discards Team for Marine Scotland, Anna Stansfield, took up post on 24 July.

  • Marine Scotland officials are preparing a ‘think piece’ paper on Inter-Species Flexibility which lays out the issues around the use of IF and how it could be used in Scotland. This paper will help us articulate our position to Defra and other Member States when the regional groups recommence. Marine Scotland will share and discuss the paper with industry in due course.

  • Discards Action Group (DAG) stakeholder meeting took place in London on 17 July. Marine Scotland officials attended.

  • ICES advice on North Sea stocks was published at the start of July.

  • Award letter for the GITAG project has been issued, and Marine Scotland officials have been advising SFF on the development of their business plan.

  • Work is continuing on the production of guidance for the management and operation of the landing obligation in 2016.

June 2015

  • Marine Scotland launched an eight-week consultation in order to consider how the Demersal Landing Obligation discard transfer should be allocated and managed by the Scottish Government. The policy decided upon following this consultation will be applied in 2016. Respondents were asked to submit their views by 18 August 2015 and the  Landing Obligation: Consultation on how the Discard Transfer quota should be allocated and managed within Scotland is now online.
  • Letter sent from the North Sea Regional Group to the Commission seeking the repeal of the Cod Recovery Plan.
  • Leaflet circulated to SDSG and Fisheries Officers outlining the detail of the Discard Plans (noting they are still to be agreed by the Commission) which should help with planning for what will happen in January 2016.
  • Work started on guidance for implementing the Discard Plans, specifically to consider what different parts of the fleet will have to land in 2016, and how De Minimis and High Survivability might work. Consultation on this to happen within Marine Scotland and the industry.
  • Clarification on De Minimis and High Survivability requests provided to the Commission following review of the Discard Plans by STECF.
  • Grant document prepared for planned Gear Innovation and Technology Advisory Group.
  • Meeting took place with Seafood Scotland, SIDI and Seafish on 4 June to consider on shore consequences of the landing obligation and where different responsibilities lie.
  • Meeting took place with Ports and Harbours and industry stakeholders on 18 June to consider on shore consequences of the discard ban and preparations which are needed for 2016 and beyond.
  • Letter issued to TR1 skippers offering one-to-one sessions with Marine Scotland officials on the effect of the landing obligation in July 2015.

May 2015

  • Meetings of NWW HLG of Directors held on 07 and 21 May, and NS HLG on 12 and 29 May. Agreement reached on phasing in of the Landing Obligation for 2016 (and pipeline for 2017/2018 for the NS also agreed in principle). Joint Recommendations (Discard Plans) for both regions signed off by Directors and submitted to the Commission.
  • De Minimis exemption for undersized nephrops, and high survivability exemption for nephrops in pots, traps and creels, in both the NS and NWW agreed for inclusion in the Joint Recommendations. Draft leaflet on the discard plans provided to industry at Skippers Expo on 29 and 30 May. Marine Scotland officials in attendance at the Expo to answer skippers' questions on the discard ban.
  • Scottish Discards Steering Group meeting held on 26 May. Initial discussions on discard transfer allocation and De Minimis.
  • Meetings took place on the planned gear trial work to help the fleet to prepare for the discard ban.
  • Officials visited Stornoway on 21 May to meet skippers, the local Fishery Office and the port authority.
  • FMAC meeting held on 05 May.

April 2015:

  • Meetings of the High Level Group (HLG) of Directors for the NWW (01 April) and NS (08 April) took place. In addition, meetings of the technical officials took place on 14 & 15 April (NWW) and 29 & 30 April (NS). Progress made with the initial drafting of the joint recommendations.
  • First meeting of European Discardless project took place in Bilbao week commencing 20 April
  • Meeting with Troon port authority to consider on shore consequences of the discard ban.
  • Discussion with SIDI on EMFF funding stream for business advisers across Scotland to advise fishermen on adjusting their business models, particularly to adjust to the Landing Obligation.
  • SIDI meeting on 16 April.

March 2015

  • Regional meetings of the High Level Group of Directors for the NS (17 March) and NWW (04 March) took place. The direction of travel on phasing and defining the fisheries is becoming much clearer. Full guidance will be provided to industry in due course.
  • A Marine Scotland case for a high survivability exemption for nephrops caught using pots, creels and traps has been accepted by technical officials in both the NS and NWW. Subject to Director approval we expect this to be submitted to the Commission as part of the Discard Plans.
  • Officials continue to work with industry on de minimis applications. We are likely to submit a de minimis application for nephrops on the west coast on the basis of disproportionate costs of landing undersized fish.
  • An initial meeting has been held with the SFF gear group on the selectivity programme which they are taking forward from now until summer 2016.
  • Marine Scotland officials gave a presentation to the British Ports Association (Scottish Committee) on 11 March to start discussions on the consequences of the Landing Obligation and what it means for ports and harbours. Further engagement agreed. A meeting is being scheduled with Seafood Scotland and Seafish to further consider the on shore effects of the Landing Obligation.
  • First meeting with SAFPO took place on 17 March to discuss implications of the Landing Obligation for quota management and licensing and, in particular, PO roles and responsibilities under the Landing Obligation. Next meeting is planned for mid-June.
  • Seafish report on choke species published. Work continues on the economic analysis which follows this piece of work.
  • A meeting with industry, MS Policy and MS Science took place on 12 March to discuss discards data. Agreement reached on future data collection.

February 2015

  • Meetings of the Technical Regional Groups for the North Sea (27 & 28 Jan) and the North West Waters (13 & 14 Jan) took place, with Marine Scotland officials attending both. Further discussions took place on phasing of the Landing Obligation and, whilst no firm decisions were reached, progress is being made. The High Level Groups of Directors for the North Sea and North West Waters will meet in February (17 Feb and 04 Feb respectively) and it is hoped that further clarity on phasing will be in place following those meetings. The Advisory Councils for the North Sea and North West Waters will be providing advice to the Directors as part of these meetings.
  • Work being undertaken by Seafish on economic modelling on the effect of the demersal discard ban will be published in early 2015. We are in the final stages of developing a tool to help individual vessels to understand the effect on their operations and to help plan for the ban once it is introduced.
  • Marine Scotland is attending a meeting with on shore processors about the Landing Obligation on 04 February. We hope this will be the start of a process to engage with the onshore industry and put the right support in place to help them to prepare for the discard ban in 2016 and beyond.

January 2015

  • The Pelagic Landing Obligation came into force on 01 January 2015, meaning that all pelagic vessels must land all of their catch. Early indications are that there are no major issues, but we would like to hear your feedback: heather.stewart@gov.scot.
  • Marine Scotland held a meeting with industry and NGO representatives on 23 January to discuss proposals around the phasing in of the Landing Obligation. Marine Scotland proposed additional measures which would see TR2 vessels landing haddock and whiting from 2016, in addition to nephrops. The firm view from industry at the meeting was that this was unworkable and further work was needed on selectivity before such measures could be introduced. Further advice will be provided to Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, as a result of the meeting and next steps will be communicated to industry as soon as possible.
  • Marine Scotland is meeting skippers on 13 February in Fraserburgh and Peterhead. Please get in touch with heather.stewart@gov.scot if you would like to set up a specific skipper meeting.
  • The Technical Regional Groups for the North Sea and North West Waters will meet in January (27-29 and 13 & 14 respectively) to discuss phasing of the demersal discard ban along with the potential for high survivability exemptions. Discussions are also likely to take place on the treatment of zero TAC species. Marine Scotland is engaging with industry representatives to seek their views on this.

December 2014

  • Members of Marine Scotland attended the SPFA Board meeting on 10 December to update SPFA members on plans for the pelagic discard ban which comes into force on 01 January 2015. A presentation on CCTV and the trial on board the Pathway was also provided. Guidance on the pelagic discard ban, including information about the Omnibus regulation, will be published before the end of December.
  • On 11 and 12 December, the members of the Discard Policy Team visited Peterhead, which provided valuable insight into the challenges being faced by all sectors in advance of the demersal discard ban. The trip highlighted the need for further engagement with active skippers and the on shore sector about the effects of the Landing Obligation, and to inform the development of discard plans. We plan to do more of this face-to-face engagement in 2015.
  • Phasing of the demersal discard ban continues to be a hot topic, with Marine Scotland working hard to try and clarify which species of whitefish will be introduced in the discard ban on 01 January 2016. Decisions on phasing are taken at Regional Group level by Member States - Marine Scotland is involved in these groups. The High Level Regional Group of Directors for the North Sea (the Scheveningen Group) met on 10 December to discuss the phasing of the demersal discard ban. The Directors instructed the North Sea Technical Regional Group to give further consideration to the range of options available, with a final decision to be made at the next Directors' meeting in February 2015. The North West Waters Group is working to a similar timescale.