Monitoring the Implementation of the Landing Obligation: The Last Haul Programme

  • Miguel NuevoEmail author
  • Cristina Morgado
  • Antonello Sala


The collection of catch composition data during inspections at sea by EU Member States occurs under the framework of joint deployment plans (JDP). It is known as “the last haul” (LH) programme and has been a fundamental tool in allowing the estimation of discards and the derivation of indicators of compliance with the landing obligation (LO). During sea inspections, measures of quantities of fish below and above the minimum conservation reference size and grade categories of the legal-size catch are used to derive estimates of discards. The methods to estimate discards assume that the relative catch composition (discard ratios) obtained with the data collected during LH inspections reflects the true catch composition of the fleet segment operating with the same gear and mesh size and in that area. The comparison between these discard ratios and with what is reported in fishers’ logbook is then used to estimate the discard component. The background of the LH programme, the methodologies for deriving discard ratios using LH data and the statistical analysis of the data are explained in this chapter.


Catch composition Compliance Inspections Joint deployment plans Risk assessment 


Glossary of Terms and Symbols Used in the Equations

Glossary of Terms

Below minimum size (BMS)

Marine organism with size below the minimum conservation reference size (MCRS).


Catch component that is not retained (discarded) and not landed. Abbreviated in this document as DIS. Discarding is the practice of returning unwanted catches to the sea, either dead or alive, because they are undersized, due to market demand or due to specific regulations such as quota exhaustion or catch composition rules.

Discard rate

See discard ratio definition.

Discard ratio

Proportion of discard quantities in relation to the total catch. Usually expressed in percentage (%) and often also designated as “discard rate”.

Grade size

Size category determined according to weight or number of fishes in 1 kg. The EU grade definition is laid down in Council Regulation (EC) No 2406/96.


Discarding of legal-size catch (see LSC definition below).

Landing Obligation

EU term for the obligation to land all catches of regulated commercial species on board and to count those catches against quota. As defined in Article 15 of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013, the LO applies to all catches of species subject to catch limits or, in the Mediterranean, species which are subject to minimum sizes. The LO includes some exemptions: de minimis (that allows the discarding of a small percentage of catches), high survivability (defined in the discard plans and that allows the discarding of specimens with a high chance of surviving) or for catch damaged by predators, disease or contaminated and therefore unfit for human consumption.

Last haul (LH)

Hauls in which fisheries inspectors have recorded the amounts of the different components of the catch (i.e. BMS, LSC, etc.) per species. Data collected at those hauls are considered reference data to estimate discards.

Legal-size catch (LSC)

The catch of marine organisms of size above the minimum conservation reference size (MCRS).

Non-reference data

In this document, it refers to data recorded in logbooks or landing declarations, where the discarding component has not been fully verified.


Partnership, Accountability (compliance), Cooperation and Transparency. This concept allowed assistance to be given by EFCA to the MS in accordance with provisions of Articles 7 and 15 of EFCA’s founding regulation. EFCA cooperated with control expert groups from the main regional bodies created in the framework of regionalisation and enlarged the assistance in areas and for species where there is no SCIP in place and thus not covered by the JDP framework.

Reference data

Data assumed to be representative of the true catch composition. In opposition to non-reference data, in reference data, the discarding component is likely to have been fully verified.


Remote electronic monitoring. Vessels which are equipped with video cameras and a system of sensors and vessel monitoring tools, to record fishing and fish sorting operations. Very often fishing data from these vessels are considered reference data.

Retained catch

Catch component that is retained (not discarded) and landed. Abbreviated in this document as RET.

Unwanted catch

Designates the catch that was, usually, discarded prior to the coming into force of the LO. Very often, associated with undersized or low market demand fish or cases of catches for which the quota had been exhausted or in contradiction with catch composition rules.

Wanted catch

Is used to designate the quantity of fish that would be landed in the absence of the LO.

Symbols Used in the Equations


Catch below minimum size


Ratio of catch below minimum size


Total catch




Discard ratio, also designated as discard rate


High-grading weight


High-grading ratio


Legal-size catch


Catch proportion of a certain species in relation to the total catch


Proportion (e.g. of grade sizes in relation to the total catch)


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Miguel Nuevo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cristina Morgado
    • 1
  • Antonello Sala
    • 2
  1. 1.EFCA – European Fisheries Control AgencyVigoSpain
  2. 2.Italian National Research CouncilInstitute of Marine Biological Resources and Biotechnologies (CNR-IRBIM)AnconaItaly

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