Fish stocks: General fisheries technical conservation rules

The Technical Conservation Regulation forms an important and integral part of the range of management measures applied to fishing activities in the EU.  The Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 850/98 (as amended)) is a set of measures aimed at ensuring the protection of fisheries resources by technical means, including fishing gear specifications, minimum landing sizes, catch composition rules, and establishing restricted fishing areas.  There are also related transitional measures (see review section below) set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 1288/2009.

Defra has published guidance on the main EC and UK technical conservation measures. The guidance below has been split into separate PDF files for easier download.

English version

  • Part 1 - Cover, contents, introduction, UK devolution arrangements, towed gear - mesh sizes (618 KB)
  • Part 2 - Towed gear - mesh size ranges and requirements (64 KB)
  • Part 3 - Towed gear - catch compositions: flexibility during voyage; net geometry and construction; fixed gear; minimum fish landing sizes (general and shellfish) (552 KB)
  • Part 4 - Closed areas, hake recovery plan, annexes (854 KB)
  • Minimum fish landing sizes (136 KB)

Review of the EU Technical Conservation measures

The current Regulation dates from 1998, has been amended many times, and is overdue for review.  The process of agreeing an updated version will allow for a comprehensive consolidation and review of the measures, enabling simplification principles to be applied, and to more effectively reflect the latest technical gear developments.

In 2008 the Commission issued a proposal to replace these measures with an overarching single regulation which would set the basic requirements for all fishermen, supplemented by a series of regional measures to reflect local fishing conditions.  This structure, with separate regional measures, was intended to enable individual fishermen to find it easier to identify the particular rules that apply in their own fisheries.  The Commission’s original proposal, although much changed in later versions, indicates something of the detail it had in mind, with the following sets of regional rules:

In response, in 2008 the UK Government commented on (PDF 63 KB) the European Commission’s proposal.

Review developments since the original 2008 proposal

The proposal, along with the regional rules, underwent a number of structural changes following development and discussion at working group level in Brussels during the autumn of 2009 (e.g. most missing minimum landing sizes restored; pelagic regional set of rules removed, and another added, consolidating NEAFC-related rules from existing sources).  Further revisions of  the overarching regulation proposal followed rapidly in latter weeks before presentation at the November Fish Council 2009, where it failed to reach agreement.

On an interim basis, therefore, it was agreed to roll-over a set of transitional measures (with minor adjustments) for 18 months until June 2011.  The Commission propose a further roll-over of these transitional measures, to be agreed in the latter part of 2010, for an additional 18 months, extending the roll-over to the end of 2012.

As a result the original proposal has been withdrawn, which means the Commission plan to provide a new proposal for the permanent measures, to be developed in step with the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, thus forming a coherent part of the reform package, which should take shape during 2012.

For the present, therefore, the current EU technical conservation measures continue to be set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 850/98 (as amended), along with the related transitional arrangements, provided in Council Regulation (EC) No 1288/2009.

Page last modified: 06 April 2010
Page published: 04 March 2009