- 1 Jan 2022
Fishing vessel landing obligation guidance 2022
The landing obligation applies to all sizes of fish managed by quota limits, including catches of quota stocks below the Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS), unless a specific exemption is in place. Fish that is quota regulated means those species for which your licence places catch limits (this includes monthly quotas for non-sector vessels).
There are circumstances that apply to all fisheries allowing you to return fish and these are:
- fish species not subject to quota limits (e.g. red mullet and squid)
- prohibited species (these must be returned carefully and unharmed),
- fish already damaged by predators (e.g. marine mammals, predatory fish or birds and fish damaged by disease or parasites e.g. sea lice)
- offal from the catch being processed e.g. fish intestines and nephrops heads.
- fish that are contaminated and consequently unfit for human consumption (e.g. fish chemically contaminated by oil)
- catches released as part of regular vessel tasks, i.e. cleaning the gear
Fisheries with individual exemptions
A number of exemptions apply to the landing obligation, using de minimis and high survival exemptions allowed for under Article 15 of the Common Fisheries Policy. These exemptions are detailed at Annex A of this guidance. If you make use of any exemption you must record appropriately, either in your e-log or paper logbook.
Undersized catches – storing on vessel
Vessels 12 metres length (LOA) or longer
Undersize fish must be stored separately from those above the MCRS e.g. in a separate, clearly marked container or box. Different species of undersize fish may be stored together. For example a bycatch of cod and haddock below MCRS could be stored together in the same box on the vessel.
Vessels under 12 metres LOA
Vessels between 10 and 12m are required to keep a logbook and submit each landing. The logbook available from Marine Scotland can accommodate this requirement. Vessels between 10 and 12m will also be required to adhere to the same regulations for the storage and separation of under sized fish as per over 12m vessels.
For vessels below 10m LOA
You do not have to store undersize fish separately. However, if you have a logbook, you must sort, estimate their weight and record them.
Undersize catches – landing
You are responsible for handling below MCRS fish until they are either landed for sale (ensuring your landing declaration is captured correctly and accurately) or sold to another Registered Buyer or Seller.
Any fish below MCRS which are landed must not be sold for direct human consumption. However, they can be sold for other uses including: bait, fishmeal and cosmetics.
Definitions and technical measures
Definitions of gear (North Sea)
For the purpose of the Regulation the following definitions shall apply:
(1) ‘Seltra panel’ means a selectivity device which: – consists of a top panel of at least 270mm mesh size (diamond mesh) placed in a four-panel section and mounted with a joining ratio of three meshes of 90mm to one mesh of 270mm, or of a top panel of at least 140mm mesh size (square mesh).
(2) ‘Net grid selectivity device’ means a selectivity device consisting of a four panel section inserted into a two-panel trawl with an inclined sheet of diamond mesh netting with a mesh size of at least 200mm, leading to an escape hole in the top of the trawl.
(3) 'Flemish Panel' means the last tapered netting section of a beam trawl whose: – posterior is directly attached to the cod-end – upper and lower netting sections are constructed of at least 120mm mesh as measured between the knots – stretched length is at least 3m.
(4) 'SepNep' means an otter trawl which: is constructed within the mesh size range of 80 to 99 +≥100mm; – is fitted with multiple cod-ends of mesh sizes ranging from at least 80 to 120mm attached to a single extension piece, the uppermost cod-end being constructed with a mesh size of at least 120mm and fitted with a separation panel with a maximum mesh size of 105mm and – may furthermore be fitted with an optional selection grid with a bar spacing of at least 17 mm provided it is constructed in such a way so as to allow the escape of small Norway lobster.
Definitions of Gear (North West Waters)
'Flemish Panel' means the last tapered netting section of a beam trawl, the posterior of which is directly attached to the cod-end. The upper and lower netting sections of the panel must be constructed of at least 120 mm mesh as measured between the knots and the panel must have a stretched length of at least 3m.
‘Seltra panel’ means a selectivity device which:
(a) consists of a top panel of at least 270 mm mesh size (diamond mesh) placed in a four-panel section and mounted with a joining ratio of three meshes of 90 mm to one mesh of 270mm, or of a top panel of at least 140 mm mesh size (square mesh)
(b) is at least 3 metres long
(c) is positioned no more than 4 metres from the cod line and
(d) is the full width of the top sheet of the trawl (i.e. from selvedge to selvedge)
‘Netgrid selectivity device’ means a selectivity device consisting of a four panel section inserted into a two-panel trawl with an inclined sheet of diamond mesh netting with a mesh size of at least 200mm, leading to an escape hole in the top of the trawl.
‘CEFAS Netgrid ’means a Netgrid selectivity device developed by The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science for catches of Nephrops in the Irish Sea.
‘Flip-flap trawl’ means a trawl equipped with a netting grid developed to reduce the capture of cod, haddock and whiting in Norway lobster fisheries.
'Flip-up rope’ means a gear modification on demersal beam trawls to help prevent stones and boulders entering the trawl and causing damage to both gear and catches.
‘Benthic release panel’ means a panel of larger mesh or square mesh netting fitted into the lower panel of a trawl, usually a beam trawl to release any benthic material and seabed debris before it passes into the codend.
‘Celtic Sea Protection Zone’ means the waters inside ICES divisions 7f, 7g and the part of 7j that lies North of latitude 50° N and East of 11° W.
NWW specific technical measures
Specific technical measures in the Celtic Sea Protection Zone
Please consult the MMO’s website for specific measures concerning the Celtic Sea: Technical Conservation and Landing Obligation rules and regulations 2022.
Article 10: Specific technical measures in the Irish Sea
1. Fishing vessels operating with bottom trawls or seines in ICES division 7a (Irish Sea) shall comply with the technical measures set out in the Definitions and technical measures above.
2. Vessels operating with bottom trawls or seines with a cod-end mesh size equal to or larger than 70 mm and smaller than 100 mm and with catches comprising more than 5% of Norway lobster shall use one of the following gear options:
(a) 300 mm squared mesh panel. Vessels below 12 meters in length over all may use a 200 mm squared mesh panel
(b) Seltra panel
(c) sorting grid with 35 mm bar spacing as referred to in Annex VI Part B to Regulation (EC) 2019/1241
(d) CEFAS Netgrid
(e) flip-flap trawl
3. Vessels equal to or greater than 12 meters in length over all operating with bottom trawls or seines with catches comprising more than 10% of haddock, cod and skates and rays combined, shall use one of the following gear options:
(a) 120 mm cod-end
(b) an eliminator trawl with 600 mm large mesh panels and a 100 mm cod-end
4. Vessels equal to or greater than 12 meters in length over all operating with bottom trawls or seines with catches comprising less than 10% of haddock, cod and skates and rays combined shall apply a cod-end mesh size of 100 mm with a 100 mm squared mesh panel. This provision shall not apply to vessels with catches comprising more than 30 % of Norway lobster or more than 85% of Queen scallops.
5. A selective gear or device assessed by the STECF as having the same or higher selectivity characteristics for cod, haddock and whiting than the gear options set out in pargraphs 1 to 4 may be used as an alternative to those gear options
Article 11: Specific technical measures in the West of Scotland
Fishing vessels operating with bottom trawls or seines (OTB, TBN, TB, OTT, OT) in ICES divisions 6a and 5b (within UK waters, east of 12°W) shall comply with the technical measures set out below:
(a) for vessels deploying a cod-end mesh size <100mm, mandatory use of a squared mesh panel (positioning retained1) of at least 300mm
(b) in relation to (a), - for vessels below 12 meters in length over all and/or with engine power of 200kW or less - the panel overall length may be 2m and the panel may be 200mm
(c) for vessels deploying a cod-end mesh size of 100-119mm and with catches comprising more than 30% of Norway lobster, mandatory use of a squared mesh panel (positioning retained1) of at least 160mm
A selective gear or device assessed by the STECF as having the same or higher selectivity characteristics for cod, haddock and whiting than the measures set out under the Introduction may be used as an alternative to those measures.
ny net to which this applies shall have incorporated in it as part of the net a square mesh panel which-
(a) is at least 3 metres in length
(b) is positioned so that the rearmost row of meshes of the square mesh panel shall be no more than 12 metres from the codline
(c) has no more than two open diamond meshes between the longitudinal side of the panel and the adjacent selvedge and
(d) shall be placed in the top half or top sheet of a net in front of any extension piece and the posterior of the cod-end