Fishermen from the Bay of Biscay showing a notice that reads that it is an MSC certified sustainable fishery. (Photo: MSC)
Bay of Biscay anchovy fishery receives sustainability certification
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 00:40 (GMT + 9)
The Inshore Producer Organisations of Guipúzcoa (Opegui) and Vizcaya (Opescaya) that make up the anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) purse seine fleet of Basque Trade Unions and the Fishermen's Association of San Martin de Laredo, have obtained sustainable fishery certification of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for their anchovy captures in the Bay of Biscay. This is the first European anchovy fishery with MSC certification and also the first of Biscay in the programme.
Following the closure of the fishery between 2005 and 2010 and the improvements of the implemented management measures, obtaining MSC certification is a very important milestone for the fleet and the recognition of the joint work for sustainability performed by the fleet, the management and scientific bodies.
The certification has been obtained after an independent evaluation through a participatory process conducted by Bureau Veritas under the MSC standard for sustainable fishing. The evaluation has shown that the anchovy stock is in a healthy state and that the fishery is well managed, with minimal impact on the marine ecosystem.
The member fleets of the Certification Unit jointly agreed to submit to full MSC assessment in order to demonstrate the sustainability of their fishing practices.
The trade unions have decided to set an open license, which allows sharing this certification with other unions and purse seiners of the fleet of Biscay that may be eligible to join the certification.
The Certification Unit is composed of 58 boats whose catches totalled 7,000 tonnes in 2013. The main catches occur from March to June.
Miren Garmendia, the secretary of the Federation of Fishermen of Gipuzkoa, stressed that the Basque anchovy fishermen as well as those from Laredo have wanted to "step over" with the MSC certification and to value their anchovy in the market both domestically and internationally.
"We want our anchovy fishery in the Bay of Biscay to be known worldwide for its quality and also for the good work of our fishermen, and for those buying our Bay of Biscay anchovy, the end-line consumers, to know they are buying an anchovy that has been captured in accordance with internationally recognized sustainability standards and to clearly know where this anchovy comes from, its Cantabrian origin," she pointed out.
Meanwhile, Leandro Azkue, director of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Basque Government, highlighted that "MSC is one of the most important sustainability standards that exist internationally endorsed by the scientific community and increasingly supported by international consumers worldwide".
And Laura Rodriguez, MSC responsible for Spain and Portugal, noted that the certification obtained "also shows that good management has allowed the recovery of this fishery and the bet for best practices and a commitment to sustainability of the resource in the long term".