Fish discard ban: MEPs delay sanctions 

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Fishermen will have until 2017 to adapt to the new discard ban rules, which will make fishing more sustainable©BELGA/dpa/C.Charisius  

Fishermen will have two years to “adapt” before sanctions for failing to comply with the new fish “discard” ban take effect, under a law passed by Parliament on Tuesday. The draft law, already informally agreed by MEPs and ministers, amends the “omnibus” regulation on arrangements for enforcing the ban. Obliging fishermen to land unwanted catches, rather than throw them back, is a key aim of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

"The new rules oblige fishermen to land all fish caught during a fishing trip. It will be extremely difficult to implement, especially for multi-species and artisanal fisheries. Our common concern is to preserve fisheries resources while maintaining a viable economy. The agreement we have found helps mitigate some of the negative effects of the new rules for fishermen", said rapporteur and Fisheries Committee chair Alain Cadec (EPP, FR).

Key changes to the original proposal

  • The European Commission must draft an annual report on implementation of the requirement to land unwanted catches.

  • There will now be two-year delay before sanctions for failing to comply with the landing obligation take effect.

  • The requirement to stow undersized fish separately by species was removed.

  • For small fishermen, the obligation to record the catches in a fishing logbook was limited to catches of a species in excess of 50 kg.

  • The draft law provides for a mechanism to prevent the development of a parallel market for non-marketable catches.

These rules are urgently needed because the discard ban is already in force (since 1 January 2015), for pelagic species, and the "landing obligation" regulation is needed to adapt seven current EU laws which conflict with the new rules. The ban is to take effect gradually, in stages, between now and 2019.

Next steps

The EU Council of Ministers must now formally approve the draft law, after which it will be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force on the third day following its publication.

Note to editors


The draft law was approved by 573 votes to 96, with 21 abstentions.


The discard ban, or landing obligation, is a key objective of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, approved by the European Parliament in December 2013. Discards are fish thrown back into the sea, usually because they are of an unwanted species or size. Most of the discarded species die, thus making it a wasteful practice.

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), first reading agreement

2013/0436(COD) - Landing obligation

#fisheries #Discards #CFPreality #CFPreform

87,445  ; number of EU fishing vessels in 2014 (Source: European Commission)