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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement28 May 2021Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

EFCA: Landing obligation evaluation shows overall compliance in the Baltic Sea


An evaluation of compliance with the landing obligation (LO) in selected fisheries in the Baltic Sea carried out in 2017 and 2018 has found an overall good level of compliance with the LO in pelagic gear herring and sprat fisheries over. However, the trend in other demersal segments in the Baltic Sea remains concerning, with a lower level of compliance with the LO in the fixed and towed gears catching plaice, as well as towed gear fleet segments targeting cod.

The evaluation was carried out by the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), in cooperation with the Member States Control Expert Group for the Baltic Sea Fisheries Forum (BALTFISH). It covered plaice, in addition to the species already included in the previous analysis, such as cod, Atlantic salmon, herring and sprat.

The level of compliance was evaluated using three different methods:

  1. Last haul (LH) inspections, together with the estimates obtained from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES),
  2. Data compiled by the European Commission’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF)
  3. The trends in the number of suspected infringements.

The evaluation recommends the continuation of the LH programme, particularly for certain species and fleet segments combinations, as well as encouraging alternative methods for LO compliance monitoring, such as control observers or remote electronic monitoring (REM) to help deter illegal practices while enhancing the reference data available for evaluating compliance.

A new evaluation covering the period 2019-2020 is already in progress.

Background: The landing obligation in the common fisheries policy (CFP)

Discarding is the practice of returning unwanted catches to the sea, either dead or alive, because they are undersized, due to market demand, because the fisherman or woman has no quota or because it is required by catch composition rules. The reform of the common fisheries policy (CFP) of 2013 aimed to gradually eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding through the introduction of the landing obligation. This radical change in fisheries management aims to improve fishing behaviour through improvements in selectivity.

There are some exemptions to the landing obligation. Catches, from species regulated by catch limits (TACs) or by minimum size can still be returned to the sea if they are covered by exemptions such as de minimis and high survivability (defined in the discard plans) or damaged fish (by predators, disease or any other potential contamination). These catches are not counted against the quota, but they must be documented in the logbook.

The article 15-13 of the CFP Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 reads:  “For the purpose of monitoring compliance with the landing obligation, Member States shall ensure detailed and accurate documentation of all fishing trips and adequate capacity and means, such as observers, closed-circuit television (CCTV) and others. In doing so, Member States shall respect the principle of efficiency and proportionality.”

More information

EFCA has carried out an evaluation of compliance with the landing obligation in selected fisheries in the Baltic Sea