SPAIN - The Grupo Regal line-caught hake (Merluccius merluccius) fishery has been certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable, well-managed fisheries following an independent full assessment. From now on, hake caught by the group using longlines may display the MSC blue ecolabel, enabling consumers to enjoy their favourite fish with the assurance that it comes from a sustainable and environmentally friendly fishery.
The certification was awarded after an evaluation carried out by Food Certification International, an independent, fully accredited certification body. The evaluation, a participative process, was conducted against the MSC standard for sustainable fishing showing that the stock is healthy and that the fishery is well managed, with a minimal impact on the marine ecosystem.
Grupo Regal certification: pioneer in fresh line-caught hake in Spain and opened to other companies. The certification was awarded to longline fishing boats operated by Grupo Regal and associated companies. The certification is open, meaning that it can be shared with other Spanish longline boats fishing for north-eastern Atlantic cod, which would thus also be eligible to display the MSC blue ecolabel on their catches.
Line-caught hake fishing operations are performed in the Great Sole area of the North-eastern Atlantic Ocean (FAO Fishing Area 27), in European waters. The certification unit consists of two ships, which together had catches totalling 1800 tonnes in 2013. Hake is caught using longlines, a selective technique with a minimal impact on the environment which rarely catches smaller, spawning fish.
Grupo Regal has also incorporated a robust code of conduct, allowing it to plan a catch strategy aimed at maintaining sustainable and responsible fishing activity. The code of conduct includes protocols for reducing catches of seabirds and cutting down on rejects, reducing the impact on vulnerable marine ecosystems and protected areas, and waste management.
Grupo Regal is a family-owned company founded in 1964. In 2010, it obtained MSC certification for its toothfish fishing operations. At present, the entire Grupo Regal fleet has MSC certification.
Juan Antonio Regal, Grupo Regal Director, said: “This certification rewards our commitment to supply the market with fresh, line-caught Spanish hake, a natural product with extraordinary quality and with the assurance that it was caught sustainably and with respect for the environment, contributing to the improvement of fishing resources for this generation of fishers and the generations that will follow."
A species that will contribute to transforming the Spanish market towards a sustainable model MSC Spain and Portugal Country Manager Laura Rodríguez said: "Hake is one of the most sought-after species in Spain and throughout Europe. This certification is an important step, making line-caught European hake with the MSC ecolabel available at fish markets and fresh fish counters throughout Spain.”
TheFishSite News Desk