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Bermeo Tuna World Capital initiative is the result of a public-private alliance. (Image: AZTI)

Bermeo launches global initiative for tuna sustainability

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Monday, May 21, 2018, 23:20 (GMT + 9)

A global initiative that promotes tuna sustainable management from the knowledge and leadership of good practices was presented at the 24th edition of the Arrain Azoka fair, one of the most important showcases in the fishing world held every year in Bermeo.

The initiative, Bermeo Tuna World Capital, is the result of a public-private partnership that seeks to involve all the key agents of the tuna value chain in Bermeo, the Basque Country and internationally.

To date, the Tuna Freezer Vessels Associations (ANABAC and OPAGAC) have joined this initiative; the Confraternity of Fishermen of Bermeo; several canneries (Sálica, Serrats, Arroyabe and Zallo); the AZTI technology center, as well as the City Council of Bermeo, the Provincial Council of Bizkaia and the Basque Government.

The Capital seeks to promote collaboration between science and fisheries, knowledge, training and innovation, and the recovery, management and release of historical heritage. In addition, this initiative aims to promote the economic and social development of the people of Bermeo.

Bermeo leads this cause because of its tradition and history, because of the social and economic impact of the tuna and canning sector and because it is a world reference in the best sustainable fishing practices. It has a tuna freezer sector with 50 boats and more than 25 inshore boats with sustainable fishing systems and a certified tuna fishery for MSC.

Bermeo is also the headquarters of numerous canning companies, as well as technological companies of capital goods. In addition, it is a world reference sector, since it represents 10 per cent of the global catches of tropical tuna, with EUR 1,250 million generated by the tuna value chain.

Also the most modern and innovative tuna vessels in the world, with almost 95 per cent of the final product, are made in Euskadi. What generates more than 6,000 direct and indirect jobs, from design and engineering through the different construction phases.

There are multiple reasons why associates have united around this cause. Due to the prediction of the increase in world population and climate change, among other factors, world per capita fish consumption will increase (x4) and demand will be difficult to satisfy because most of the marine natural resources are in their maximum sustainable yield.

Tuna is a natural and healthy protein source, basic in human nutrition that must be guaranteed for future generations. In addition, it is an obligation to keep the oceans clean and fisheries resources sustainable. Therefore, it is essential to lead a movement that promotes good practices around this scarce resource.

The initiatives that are already underway include the collaboration of the Great Tuna Race in the marking of albacore tuna in the Bay of Biscay, plastics cleaning projects of the Basque seas and oceans of the world, a World Congress on the gastronomy of tuna and the configuration of a tourist offer based on tuna: cultural, gastronomic, ethnographic and environmental.

At the opening ceremony of the Arrain Azoka, the XXII Hegaluze Saria was awarded every year as part of this fair. This year the award winner was the Bermeo tuna freezer sector for "its ability to transform to new times, both from a technological point and the steps they have taken in environmental matters, and to publicize the name of Bermeo worldwide", as explained Bitor Agirre, member of Arrain Azoka Elkartea and the jury that awards this award.

In this way, the companies Inpesca, Atunsa, Pevasa, Nicra, Albacora, Garavilla and Echebastar received the award from the mayor of Bermeo and president of Arrain Azoka Elkartea, Idurre Bideguren, who congratulated them for their work and highlighted their progress to favour sustainable fishing.

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