Discarding in Mediterranean trawl fisheries—a review of potential measures and stakeholder insights

  • M. StithouEmail author
  • V. Vassilopoulou
  • K. Tsagarakis
  • A. Edridge
  • A. Machias
  • M. Maniopoulou
  • A. Dogrammatzi
  • J. M. Bellido
  • P. Carbonara
  • A. Carbonell
  • G. Lembo


The multi-species/multi-gear nature of the Mediterranean fisheries, the high number and dispersion of landing points, and the varying motivations for discarding make regulation enforcement in the basin challenging. In this study, reasons for explaining discarding are initially explored and then the main focus is on identifying potential incentive mechanisms and other measures that could reduce unwanted catches in Mediterranean trawl fisheries, in the face of the recent landing obligation. Both literature review and stakeholder engagement are employed, while special emphasis is put on the role of socio-economic tools to influence fishers’ behavior. Results show that although discarding is mainly driven by market demand, a number of factors have a synergistic effect which is sometimes difficult to disentangle and capture. Regarding measures, evidence from involved stakeholders (marine scientists and fishers) shows that economic incentives but also “social measures” such as more involvement of the industry and raising awareness are offering common ground. However, specific concerns have been also expressed on measures applicability. Overall, reducing discards is a complex issue and solutions should involve a combination of management measures designed for specific fleets and regions. However, irrespective of the synthesis of the management options, it is important to create a framework of action that takes into account human behavior as a source of variability. In this context, actions that for example encourage, engage, and enable can incentivize behavioral change in order to achieve specific outcomes.


Discarding Socio-economics Measures and incentive mechanisms Mediterranean Sea 



The content of this study does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Finally, we would like to thank researchers involved in data collection and the three referees that provided constructive reviews that substantially improved the final manuscript.

Authors’ contributions

The authors included in this study have contributed by providing input to (i) all sections of the paper following their particular knowledge and expertise, (ii) reviewing the research and survey design, and (iii) enabling stakeholder engagement and collection of data.

Funding information

This study was funded by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries under project “DISCATCH: Pilot project on catch and discard composition including solutions for limitation and possible elimination of unwanted bycatches in trawl net fisheries in the Mediterranean” (DG MARE/2012/24-Lot 2 SI2.672370).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Stithou
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. Vassilopoulou
    • 1
  • K. Tsagarakis
    • 1
  • A. Edridge
    • 1
  • A. Machias
    • 1
  • M. Maniopoulou
    • 1
  • A. Dogrammatzi
    • 1
  • J. M. Bellido
    • 2
  • P. Carbonara
    • 3
  • A. Carbonell
    • 4
  • G. Lembo
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Marine Biological Resources & Inland WatersHellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR)AthensGreece
  2. 2.Centro Oceanografico de MurciaInstituto Español de Oceanografia (IEO)MurciaSpain
  3. 3.COISPA Tecnologia e Ricerca, Stazione Sperimentale per lo Studio delle Risorse del MareBariItaly
  4. 4.Centro Oceanográfico de BalearesInstituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO)PalmaSpain

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