Research seminar on reducing fisheries waste

Monday 28 Jan 19


Clara Ulrich
DTU Aqua
+4535 88 33 95

Facts about the Landing Obligation

The discard ban is part of the European Common Fisheries Policy, where it is called the Landing Obligation.
For Denmark, the first part of the Landing Obligation was introduced on 1 January 2015 and covered pelagic species (herring, mackerel and blue whiting), industrial fish (sprat, sand eel and Norway pout) and cod in the Baltic Sea.
The second part of the Landing Obligation started on 1 January 2016, with the gradual phasing in of the main demersal species, which are cod, haddock, saithe, whiting, haddock, hake, Norway lobster, shrimp, plaice and sole. 
Since 1 January 2019, all fisheries in EU waters are covered by the Landing Obligation.

A ban on throwing away unwanted catches in fisheries (discards) has come into force throughout Europe. Researchers, fishermen, managers and environmental NGOs meet at DTU to share knowledge

When fishermen pull their nets onboard, there is usually many more fish in them than the desired ones of the right species and sizes. These unwanted catches have no market value and the storage space on board is limited so they have traditionally been thrown overboard.


But the fishermen are no longer allowed to do so. After a gradual introduction, a European ban on discards – called the “Landing Obligation” - has now come into effect. For almost all commercial species, all fish caught must be landed and counted in the quota. Thus, new ways of fishing, new ways of storing fish, new ways of controlling catches and new ways of exploiting the previously unwanted catch are needed.


Scientists from all over the world under the leadership of DTU Aqua have been working on these issues for the past four years in the project DiscardLess, which is funded by Horizon 2020 EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation (H2020 GA 633680). This week, DiscardLess will hold a closing Science/Policy conference, where the researchers invite stakeholders to share and discuss the new knowledge. The Danish Minister for fisheries Eva Kjer Hansen will be participating in part of the conference. She says:


"With the introduction of the Landing Obligation, we in the EU took an important step towards an even better use of our fishery resources. However, the Landing Obligation sets some challenges for fishermen. Fishing needs to be targeted much more, and fishermen must choose their fishing gear with care. There is also a need to find good solutions to utilize the catches that are landed, but which are actually currently undesirable. At the conference, I look forward to hearing how we help the fishermen to exploit their quotas in the best possible way".


Professor Clara Ulrich from DTU Aqua has been the leader of the research project DiscardLess, and she says that we have come a long way with understanding the problem and possible solutions, but that it requires political decisions and sufficient control and compliance to be effective:


“There is not one simple and easy solution to ensure that unwanted catches are avoided. There are many things that need to play together, and the ban requires a major transformation in the ways to both conduct and regulate fisheries", she says.


The researchers in the project worked on a variety of scientific and technical issues, including the development and testing of alternatives for more targeted fishing methods, better storage of the catch and new utilization opportunities for the fish that will come ashore in the future instead of being thrown overboard.


"Hopefully, the results will be used as inspiration for both fishermen, industry and managers, just as other researchers can build on them to work on even better solutions," says Clara Ulrich.


In connection with the conference DiscardLess has just published a book that summarizes the background for the adoption of the Landing Obligation and the many achievements of the project. The book can be freely downloaded from the publisher's website via this link.



Read more about DiscardLess on the projects website