Main content area

Could the obligation to land undersized individuals increase the black market for juveniles: evidence from the Mediterranean?

Bellido, Jose M, García‐Rodriguez, Mariano, García‐Jiménez, Teresa, González‐Aguilar, María, Carbonell‐Quetglas, Ana
Fish and fisheries 2017 v.18 no.1 pp. 185-194
European Union, Thunnus thynnus, commercialization, fish, fish meal, fisheries, fisheries law, fisheries management, juveniles, marketing, transportation, Europe
The latest Green Paper on the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) identified the high level of discards in Europe as one of the structural weaknesses of the current CFP. The new CFP introduces a discard ban in European waters, with an obligation to land all regulated species. The fishing management system in the Mediterranean is based on effort control and technical measures, and this is raising some particular concerns about the effective implementation of the discard ban. With the exception of bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus, Scombridae), there are no quotas in the Mediterranean and this regulation affects all regulated species with the minimum landing size. Under these circumstances, the discard ban may lead to an increase in the amount of juvenile fish caught, because such catches are not counted against a given quota, as is the case in the Atlantic fisheries, and thus, there is no incentive to avoid catching them. On the contrary, the obligation to land the juveniles that are now discarded and their subsequent fishmeal processing might even become commercially interesting. One possible consequence of the new regulation may be an increase in the illegal marketing of fish below the minimum size. The landing, storage and transportation of juveniles will all be legal, and this may simplify their commercialization via the black market. The discard ban and landing obligation should be accompanied by other measures to ensure their successful implementation, including the agreement of the fishing sector to comply with the rules and regulations.