Muddying the Waters of the Landing Obligation: How Multi-level Governance Structures Can Obscure Policy Implementation

  • Luc van Hoof
  • Marloes KraanEmail author
  • Noor M. Visser
  • Emma Avoyan
  • Jurgen Batsleer
  • Brita Trapman


The 2013 reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) included an increased drive for regionalisation of the policy implementation and the introduction of the Landing Obligation (LO). The process of implementing the LO takes place at multiple levels of governance within the EU. We use the case of the implementation of the LO in the Netherlands, where policymakers and the fishing industry cooperate towards a workable policy implementation. In this paper, we argue that the EU’s complex and unconsolidated implementation structure hampers a fair and clear implementation process. Three main causes can be distinguished: first, a lack of a shared understanding of the goal of the Landing Obligation within and between the different governance levels that are involved in the implementation process. Second, no meaningful discussions are taking place between concurrent resource users, resource managers and supporters of the LO regarding the need and usefulness of the measure, as there is no arena in the governance system for them to meet. With the introduction of the Regional Advisory Councils in the 2002 CFP reform, a platform for discussion between fishers and NGOs was created, but this platform has only an advisory role and does not include the Member States. Third, the relationship between different decision-making bodies is unclear, as is the manner in which stakeholder input will be included in decision-making about implementing the LO. The result of this implementation process has been a diluted policy where the goal, its execution and its effectiveness remain unclear.


Common Fisheries Policy Landing obligation Multi-level governance Regionalisation Subsidiarity 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Luc van Hoof
    • 1
  • Marloes Kraan
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Noor M. Visser
    • 2
  • Emma Avoyan
    • 3
  • Jurgen Batsleer
    • 1
  • Brita Trapman
    • 1
  1. 1.Wageningen Marine ResearchIJmuidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute for Management ResearchRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Environmental Policy GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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