The EU Discard Reduction Manual

A tool to reduce discards and meet the EU landing obligation

Annually, around the world, roughly 6.8 million tons of fish are caught and discarded—thrown overboard dead or dying. That is about eight percent of all fish caught by commercial fishermen.

In 2014, the European Union introduced a new set of laws—known as the landing obligation—under its Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to address this issue by banning the discarding of unwanted and unmarketable fish. The reformed CFP also requires all overfishing to end by 2015 for the majority of fish stocks and by 2020 for overfishing to end completely.

Environmental Defense Fund has developed a user-friendly guide to help EU fishermen, fishery managers and Member State regulators find ways to successfully implement the CFP landing obligation requirements.

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The manual is not prescriptive; rather, it discusses different tools that can be tailored to meet the specific needs and address the diversity in EU fisheries. The document is categorized by two key approaches, with the first outlining tools that help ensure Member States and quota managers use their available catch quota in the 'smartest' way possible through well-designed, robust quota management systems. The second focuses on changes in the day-to-day operation of the fishing industry, such as introducing avoidance measures and improving selectivity. These approaches are supplemented by a section on achieving full accountability to support successful implementation of the landing obligation.

We are pleased to offer what we hope you agree is a practical and useful guide for fishery managers and fishermen as they embark on a path towards reducing discarding in EU fisheries. We hope the sharing of such ideas and experience will help to evolve and grow them, and we welcome your feedback on the practical application of this guide.

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