Strategies Used Throughout the World to Manage Fisheries Discards – Lessons for Implementation of the EU Landing Obligation

  • William A. KarpEmail author
  • Mike Breen
  • Lisa Borges
  • Mike Fitzpatrick
  • Steven J. Kennelly
  • Jeppe Kolding
  • Kåre Nolde Nielsen
  • Jónas R. Viðarsson
  • Luis Cocas
  • Duncan Leadbitter


In many countries, policies regarding reduction of unwanted catch and discards are crafted in response to concerns regarding accountability, conservation, and waste as well as scientific needs to fully account for all sources of fishing mortality. It is important to note, however, that unwanted catch is minimal and most, or all, of the catch has value in some fisheries. Utilisation rates are very high, and discarding is generally not of concern in such fisheries which occur primarily, but not entirely, in developing countries. Where unwanted catch and discards are a concern, legislation may be prescriptive, as can be seen in the EU Landing Obligation (LO), and programmes established in e.g. Norway, Iceland, Argentina, Chile and New Zealand. Elsewhere, legislative language is intended to minimize unwanted catch but allows for some flexibility in developing strategies and solutions, as in the USA. The effectiveness of these approaches depends on many factors and all require effective cross-sectoral collaboration. Also essential is a comprehensive monitoring and control system which insures regulatory compliance and collection of adequate data to address scientific and management information needs. In this chapter, we evaluate the effectiveness of discard and unwanted catch reduction approaches under diverse legislative systems in different parts of the world, with reference to emerging practices under the LO. We consider the importance of finding the balance between top-down and bottom-up processes and look carefully at different governance/regulatory frameworks (e.g. input controls, output controls, quota management and transferability, cooperative/collaborative management), factors which encourage or discourage innovation and collaborative problem solving, monitoring and accountability. This is accomplished through case studies from selected fisheries around the world.


Avoidance Discards Full retention Selectivity Unwanted catch Utilisation 



We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers and the editorial team for their constructive comments and suggestions.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • William A. Karp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mike Breen
    • 2
  • Lisa Borges
    • 3
  • Mike Fitzpatrick
    • 4
  • Steven J. Kennelly
    • 5
  • Jeppe Kolding
    • 6
  • Kåre Nolde Nielsen
    • 7
  • Jónas R. Viðarsson
    • 8
  • Luis Cocas
    • 9
  • Duncan Leadbitter
    • 10
  1. 1.School of Aquatic and Fishery SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Marine Research (IMR)BergenNorway
  3. 3.FishFixBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Marine Natural Resource GovernanceCorkIreland
  5. 5.ICIC Independent ConsultingCronullaAustralia
  6. 6.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  7. 7.The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  8. 8.Matís ohf. Icelandic food and biotech R&DReykjavíkIceland
  9. 9.Subsecretaría de Pesca y Acuicultura, Gobierno de ChileValparaísoChile
  10. 10.Fish MatterWollongongAustralia

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