Behind the Headlines

“New EU rule implemented ahead of Brexit could be devastating for UK fishing industry’’. Really?

Written on 01/24/2019


What’s the story?

As of January, new EU fisheries rules will enter into force, including the crucial ‘discard ban’ and ‘landing obligation’. These rules are part of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and aim to end the wasteful practice of discarding unwanted fish into the sea, obliging fishermen to take their whole catch to the shore. Read more in The Express.

How reliable is it?

Unreliable, in that it tries to make this sound detrimental in order to blame Brussels. The UK has in fact been the main driver of these reforms in the EU under consecutive fisheries ministers Richard Benyon and George Eustice over three years. Eustice stated that the discard ban would ‘create a profitable fishing industry and safeguard [the] marine environment’. These policies have been implemented gradually through a phasing-in process from 2014 to 2019, in order to enable the fishing industry to adapt to a system whereby the entire catch must be recorded and landed.

What’s the background?

· The UK Government led negotiations in the EU Council for three years to push reforms to the CFP which include a ban on discarding fish, a legally-binding commitment to fish at sustainable levels and decentralised decision-making, which were adopted in 2013. Evidence

· The landing obligation is being phased in across fisheries and species between 2014-2019, to ensure that the fishing industry can adapt to the changes, and the phasing-in provisions and exemptions are based on joint recommendations from regional groups of member states. Evidence  

· Fishers are working alongside national administrations to reduce unwanted catch, such as by using more selective fishing equipment. It is believed that over time, this will enable stocks to recover faster and will produce larger fish, ultimately increasing the financial return for fishermen. Evidence

· Vessel owners should also receive financial support from the EU budget for being innovative and producer organisations will also receive funding to help to implement these reforms through better labelling of products and marketing of new products. Evidence

· Only quota species are required to be ‘landed’, non-quota species can continue to be discarded. Evidence

Photo courtesy © Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 4.0,

This Behind the Headlines Briefing was first published on the DoorstepEU app: