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Report on current practices in the handling of unavoidable, unwanted catches

Viðarsson, Jonas R.; Guðjónsson, Þorlákur; Sigurðardóttir, Sigríður

Ulrich, Clara

Executive Summary

This document is the first deliverable in work package 5 of the DiscardLess project. The project is intended to contribute to a successful implementation of the landing obligation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy of the EU. The work package 5 focuses on how unwanted, unavoidable catches can be handled on-board the fishing vessels i.e. from catch to first sale. The first step in that work is to provide an overview of current practices in the handling of unwanted catches, which is done in this deliverable. Discard estimates in global and European fisheries are presented; the most common methods of discarding and associated incentives are reviewed; the landing obligation of the CFP as well as landing obligations in other countries are accounted for; monitoring, control and surveillance alternatives are discussed and a number of initiatives temped to reduce bycatch and discards are reviewed.


The objective of this deliverable is to present basic back-ground information on discard mitigation issues and the available tools for battling the discard problem. Most of the discard issues and the available tools presented are not directly relevant for what can be applied on-board of the fishing vessels, but are nevertheless necessary information for project partners and stakeholders to identify possible on-board solutions.


The focus on what happens to unwanted catches on-board the fishing vessel has mainly been on monitoring, control and surveillance, where Fully Documented Fisheries and the use of Closed-Circuit Television to monitor catches and discards have been at the forefront. There has however not been much attention given to what to do with the unwanted catches once they have been taken aboard the fishing vessels. Species not covered by catch limits, species where high survivability can be demonstrated and catches falling under the de minimis exceptions can still be discarded under the CFP landing obligation; but everything else will need to be landed. In addition will catches under Minimum Conservation Reference Size need to be landed, but cannot be used for direct human consumption. It is clear that storage space will become an issue for much of the EU fleet when the landing obligation is implemented. The available alternatives for addressing that challenge are scarce, but some of the countries that have been working under a discard ban have been trying to find solutions. These solutions are though generally only applicable for large-scale vessels; but 83% of the EU fleet is under 12 meters long and 98% are under 30 meters.

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