Fishers' perceptions about the EU discards policy and its economic impact on small-scale fisheries in Galicia (North West Spain)

Sebastian Villasante, Graham J Pierce, Cristina Pita, César Pazos Guimerans , João Garcia Rodrigues, Manel Antelo, Jose Maria Da Rocha , Javier García Cutrin, Lee C. Hastie, Pedro Veiga, U. Rashid Sumaila, Marta Coll

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This paper investigates the impact of the European Union landing obligation in the Galician (North West of Spain) multispecies small-scale gillnet fishery. By combining results from semi-structured interviews with small-scale fishers and a bioeconomic model, we found that the percentage of discards for small-scale fisheries is usually low, which is consistent with general empirical observations globally but can be high when quotas are exhausted.

Our results also confirm that the landing obligation would generate negative impacts on fishers' activities by investing more time on-board to handle previously discarded fishes, and putting at risk the security of fishers at sea due to full use of allowable storage on-board coupled with often adverse sea conditions in Galician bays. The application of the landing obligation policy to small-scale fisheries would result in short- and long-term losses of fishing days and yields, with high negative impacts on sustainable fisheries such as the Galician multispecies small-scale gillnet fishery. The expected number of fishing days under the landing obligation is estimated to be reduced by 50% during the five years following the implementation of the policy. The future yield (catches) under the landing obligation would be only 50% of catches expected in the absence of the landing obligation, regardless of the total volume of quotas allocated to the fleet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Economics
Early online date21 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

The authors acknowledge the valuable comments and suggestions made by members of the Committee of Fisheries of the European Parliament. The authors would also like to thank the financial support of the European Parliament (Grant N° IP/B/PECH/IC/2014-084). SV and MA thank financial support from the Galician Government (Consellería de Cultura, Educación e Ordenación Universitaria, Xunta de Galicia) (Grant N° GPC 2013-045). RS acknowledges the support of the Too Big to Ignore Partnership sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. JMDR and JGC thank the financial support from the European Commission (Grant N° MINOW H2020-SFS-2014-2, N° 634495) and Xunta de Galicia (Grant N° GRC 2015/014 and ECOBAS). CP and GJP acknowledge the financial support of Caixa Geral de Depósitos (Portugal) and the University of Aveiro. CP would also like to acknowledge FCT/MEC national funds and FEDER co-funding, within the PT2020 partnership Agreement and Compete 2020, for the financial support to CESAM (Grant N° UID/AMB/50017/2013). Finally, the authors would like to acknowledge and thank the assistance of Ojama Priit and Marcus Brewer (European Parliament), and all small-scale fishers that took part in the survey.


  • common fisheries policy
  • discard ban
  • fishers' perceptions
  • economic impacts
  • multipsecies gillnet small-scale fishery
  • Galicia (Nort West of Spain)


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