European fisheries policy: fish landing rules

European fisheries ministers have reached an agreement about landing all fish caught. The new European fisheries policy aims to limit bycatch as much as possible and stop the practice of discards whereby unwanted fish are thrown overboard.

“The landing requirement is one of the pillars of the new sustainable fisheries policy. I’m pleased that we have now made achievable implementation agreements,” said Sharon Dijksma, Minister for Agriculture.


Currently, a large quantity of fish are thrown back into the sea. For each kilo of fish landed, 1.5 to 2.5 kilos is discarded overboard as bycatch. This is primarily fish that cannot be sold or fish that does not fall within the fishery’s quota. Almost all the fish that are thrown back die. This practice must be minimised over the coming years, by for example using better fishing gear to reducing bycatch. The bycatch that is still netted must be landed, and can then be processed into fish meal for instance.

Landing requirement

The landing requirement will be phased in to allow the fishery fleet time to adapt. For some types of fishery the measures can be introduced more quickly. For instance for herring fishers which traditionally have little bycatch. Others, like sole and plaice fisheries will have to make greater alterations to their fishing gear or vessels. They will be allowed a number of additional years to implement these measures.

The fisheries ministers also agreed that a small part of the bycatch does not have to be landed and will not be deducted from the quota.