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Demersal and Nephrops Landing Obligation From 2017

What Must Be Landed?

The landing obligation means that no commercial fishing vessel can return any quota species of any size to the sea once caught. This includes slipping or discarding the catch. Once caught, all quota species must be landed and counted against quota.

Under the landing obligation Minimum Landing Sizes (MLS) are being abolished. Instead a Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS) for each species will be introduced. Fish below the MCRS may be sold but cannot go for human consumption.

What Can Be Returned To The Sea?

  • Species not subject to the landing obligation such as non-quota species can be returned to the sea
  • Prohibited species (basking shark, porbeagle, angel shark, common skate, undulate ray etc.) must be returned to the sea
  • Debris caught in the net (rocks, tree branches, seaweed) can also be returned to the sea
  • Processing at sea, tailing Nephrops or gutting fish, can continue

What Will Need To Be Landed And When?

2016

Member States have drawn up plans for which species will need to be landed by vessels in the North Sea and North West Waters in 2016. These plans have been agreed by the European Commission and form the basis of the delegated regulations for the North Sea and North West Waters.

  • In the North Sea in 2016: vessels using gear of 100 mm or more will need to land haddock, plaice and northern prawn, and vessels using gear of 80-99 mm will need to land nephrops, common sole and northern prawn. All long line vessels will need to land hake.
  • In the North West Waters in 2016: vessels where 10% or more of their total landings in 2013 and 2014 were from a combination of cod, haddock, whiting and saithe will have to land haddock. Vessels where 30% or more of their landings in 2013 and 2014 were nephrops will have to land all nephrops. Vessels which meet both conditions will have to land both haddock and nephrops. All long line vessels will need to land hake. Marine Scotland is in contact with vessels to confirm which category they belong to.

2017

Member States have drawn up plans for which species will need to be landed by vessels in the North Sea and North West Waters in 2017. These plans were accepted by the European Commission and form the basis of published delegated acts for the North Sea (and annex) and North Westeren Waters (and annex).

  • In the North Sea in 2017: vessels using gear of 100 mm or more will need to land all catches of saithe (if caught by a saithe targeting vessel), plaice, haddock, whiting, cod, northern prawn, sole and nephrops
  • Vessels using gear of 80-99 mm will need to land all catches of nephrops, haddock, sole and northern prawn
  • Long line vessels will need to land all catches of hake, northern prawn, nephrops, sole, haddock whiting and cod*
  • In the North West Waters in 2017: vessels where 5% or more of their total landings in 2014 and 2015 were from a combination of cod, haddock, whiting and saithe will have to land haddock, sole, plaice and megrim 
  • Vessels where 20% or more of their landings in 2014 and 2015 were nephrops will have to land all nephrops and haddock
  • All long line vessels will need to land hake

Vessels which meet both conditions will have to land both haddock, sole, plaice, megrim and nephrops. Marine Scotland is in contact with vessels and Producer Organisations to confirm which, if any, category they belong to.

Further species will be introduced in 2018 to avoid the sudden addition of a large number of species in 2019.

From 2019 all vessels will need to land all catches of all quota species unless an exemption applies.

De Minimis and High Survivability Exemptions

For both the North Sea and North West Waters, a de minimis exemption to allow vessels to discard a limited amount of Nephrops below MCRS has been agreed by Member States and the Commission. In both the North Sea and North West Waters, Member States and the Commission have also agreed a high survivability exemption for Nephrops caught with pots, traps and creels which will allow those Nephrops to be returned to the sea as they are highly likely to survive the capture process. 

Control and Enforcement of the Landing Obligation

Marine Scotland’s marine patrol vessels and surveillance aircraft will be used to detect, as well as deter, discarding. We will use the intelligence and evidence gathered by these vessels and aircraft to ascertain species and the size of fish being landed, which will identify any vessels which continue to discard. We will also use enhanced profiling of catches to identify any irregularities.

Marine Scotland will continue to develop other tools to aid control and enforcement through its involvement in European Union discussions with other Member States, and work to deliver a consistent and fair approach to enforcement across the Member States.

Marine Scotland will be pragmatic in its enforcement, recognising that there needs to be a period of learning and adjustment when the ban takes effect.

Demersal Discard Atlases

Discard atlases for pelagic and demersal fisheries in the North Sea and North West Waters are available. The atlases attempt to quantify the level of discarding by both species and fishery in these sea areas:

Preparation for 2019

A key component of Marine Scotland’s work in preparing for the Landing Obligation in 2016 is engagement with the Scottish fishing industry to identify:

  • likely choke species and quota bottlenecks to be experienced in 2016
  • the potential use of gear selectivity to avoid unwanted catches
  • the potential for adjusting business models to reflect changes in catch composition
  • the potential use of spatial selectivity and ‘moving on’ rules to avoid unwanted catches
  • the potential use of additional quota swaps to alleviate pressures