To land or not to land: How do stakeholders perceive the zero discard policy in European small-scale fisheries?

Sebastian Villasante, Cristina Pita, Graham J Pierce, Cesar Pazos Guimerans , Joao Garcia Rodrigues, Manel Antelo, Jose Maria Da Rocha , Javier Garcia Cutrin, Lee Hastie, Ussif Rashid Sumaila, Marta Coll

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The landing obligation recently adopted by the European Union’s (EU) Common Fisheries Policy aims to eradicate discards in EU fisheries. The objective of this paper is to investigate the potential social and economic impacts of the discard ban in European small-scale fisheries (SSF) and the critical factors for its successful implementation. An exhaustive systematic literature review and a stakeholder consultation were carried out in order to (i) collect detailed information about current knowledge on discards in EU SSF and gauge stakeholder perceptions about potential impacts of the discard ban in European SSF, (ii) examine the capacity of the SSF industry to implement the discard ban, and (iii) explore the limits and feasibility of implementing such a measure. The results of this study show that little attention has been given by the scientific community to discards in EU SSF. Indeed, the systematic literature review shows that this problem is relatively unexplored in the EU. In addition, the effectiveness of a discard ban in industrial fisheries is still unclear, mainly because discard data are not systematically collected by fisheries authorities. Stakeholders mostly perceive that the new landing obligation was developed with industrial fisheries in mind and that compliance with the landing obligation in EU SSF will be difficult to achieve without high economic costs, such as those related to the handling and storage of unwanted fish on board.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-174
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Policy
Early online date3 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016

Bibliographical note

The authors wish to acknowledge the valuable comments and suggestions made by members of the Committee of Fisheries of the European Parliament. The authors also thank the financial support of the European Parliament (IP/B/PECH/IC/2014–084) and the assistance of Ojama Priit and Marcus Brewer. SV acknowledges the financial support from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) (Grant no 11-CAP2–1406) and the Galician Government (Consellería de Cultura, Educación e Ordenación Universitaria, Xunta de Galicia) (Grant no R2014/023). MC acknowledges the financial support from the European Commission through the Marie Curie Career Integration Grant Fellowships – PCIG10-GA-2011–303534 - to the BIOWEB project. CP and GP 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 no UID/AMB/50017/2013). JMDR and JGC thanks the financial support from the European Commission (MINOW H2020-SFS-2014–2, No 634495) and Xunta de Galicia (GRC 2015/014 and ECOBAS). MA acknowledges financial aid of Xunta de Galicia through Project GPC 2013–045. URS and CP acknowledge the Too Big to Ignore Partnership supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).


  • discarding
  • European Union
  • landing obligation
  • small-scale fisheries
  • stakeholders' perceptions


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