Fisheries Areas Network

Good Practice Short Story

Managing discards: lessons from an artisanal fishing fleet

This FLAG project assesses the challenges of managing the discards produced by the artisanal fishing fleet in the Pontevedra Estuary, Spain. The project clarifies the impact new EU landing obligations will have on the fleet and outlines the future implications and consequences of the measures when they come into force.
I am delighted with this project to support the area’s small-scale coastal fisheries. My utmost congratulations go to the Bueu Cofradia (fishing organisation) for leading the way on this challenging theme and to Rosana Solla, the marine biologist who developed and conducted this research.
Laura Nieto, FLAG Manager

Discards are an important issue in fisheries, both from an environmental and socio-economic point of view. Nearly all fishing techniques result in catches which are either not wanted by fishers, or not allowed due to quotas or the fish being undersized. Furthermore, new EU measures, being phased in across fisheries and species between 2015-2019, introduce new landing obligations, meaning that all regulated commercial species caught must now be counted towards a vessel’s total landed catch.

In collaboration with the Fishermen’s Association of Bueu, one of the area’s main fishing ports, the Pontevedra FLAG has supported a study of the discards generated by the port’s artisanal fishing fleet to determine the impact the landing obligation will have on the area’s fisheries. Surveys were conducted with skippers from the fleet and data collected on the species caught, quantities landed and the reasons for any discards. The area’s seine fishing vessels were identified as potentially being most affected by the new landing obligations and were, therefore, a focus of the project. Smaller vessels dedicated to gillnet and octopus fishing were also surveyed to provide a dataset more representative of the whole fleet.

Preliminary results indicate that the new measures will have a negligible impact on the area’s fishing activities. The discards for both seine and gillnet fishing vessels were revealed to be relatively low and predominately consist of smaller species such as starling and bogue. For gillnet vessels, these species are often discarded due to the small catch sizes (ten fish or less), too small to market. Among seine vessels, while catches of bogue are higher, the species is not commercially regulated and therefore not included in the vessels’ total allowable catch (TAC) quota. Spider crab are also discarded when caught out of season, however, given the nature of gillnet fishing gear, they are often returned to the sea alive.

While the FLAG project has established that the impact the new landing obligations will have on the fishing fleet of Bueu is minimal, it provides an objective evaluation of discards management in the area. The research concluded with a series of in-depth interviews with key industry stakeholders on their perceptions of the new measures and the general opinion is that with the right management, both discards and TAC quotas pose no threat to the future of the area’s fishing activities and economy.



Budget €49 248
EU contribution €41 861
  • EMFF: €41 861
Other public contribution €7 387
  • Regional: €7 387




Détails de contact

Contacts du GALPA

Ms. Laura Nieto Zas
+34 886 21 30 15
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