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First European Anchovy Fishery Enters Sustainable Assessment

13 June 2014

SPAIN - Several fishing associations have come together to prove the sustainability of the Cantabrian Sea (Bay Of Biscay) anchovy fishery, entering it into full assessment. This will be the first time that European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) has been assessed against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable fishing and also the first Cantabrian Sea fishery to enter the programme.

The evaluation will be performed independently, as part of a participatory process, under the rigorous and science based MSC environmental standards. If the assessment is successful, all the anchovy captured by this fishery may be marketed with the MSC blue ecolabel. The ecolabel offers consumers a quick and easy way to choose sustainable seafood products and contribute to a future full of fish.

Basque and Cantabrian fishing associations join forces for shared certification

The Inshore Producers Organisations from Viscaya and Guipúzcoa, part of the Basque fishermen’s guild, have joined the San Martin de Laredo fishermen’s guild in a united effort towards MSC certification.

The Federations of Fishing Guilds for the Basque Provinces were pioneers in undertaking MSC pre-assessment in Spain. The Cofradía de Pescadores San Martín de Laredo (Cantabria) is a millenary fishing association, the oldest in Spain, where the management of their marine resource is essential to assure the durability of their activity.

The associations wish to highlight the sustainability of their combined fleet’s fishing practices, in addition to the already recognised quality of the region’s anchovy. Certification will make their product unique in the market and enable shoppers to differentiate when choosing which anchovy to buy.

Anchovy fishing operations are conducted in the Cantabrian Sea using purse seine nets, an artisanal surface fishing method. The certificate is being sought for fifty eight boats, which in 2013 had a total catch of 7000 tonnes. Most fish are caught between March and June.

The associations have decided to open the assessment. This means that if successfully assessed, other guilds and seiner boats from the Cantabrian region will be eligible to share the certificate and display the blue MSC ecolabel on their catches.

Committed to good environmental management

The Cofradía de Laredo’s full assessment is being promoted by the canning company Sucore SL, specialised in Cantabrian anchovy, and the Swiss group S. de Mendieta SA International Trading whose business practices aim to respect the environmental balance and marine sustainability and, in turn, the integrity of the world’s fisheries and increased ecological wellbeing and abundance.

Laura Rodríguez, MSC Spain and Portugal Country Manager, explained, "There is high commercial interest in the MSC certified Cantabrian anchovy. European consumers increasingly seek the sustainability credentials granted by our certification, as well as the known quality of Cantabrian anchovies and the closeness of the fishing grounds. The certificate is open, so other fleets will very probably join soon, broadening the offer of Cantabrian products bearing the MSC ecolabel."

The certification process

The assessment will be conducted by Bureau Veritas, an independent certification body. The team will assess the fishery for compliance with MSC’s three environmental standards: the health of the anchovy population, the impact of the fishery on the marine ecosystem, and efficient fishery management.

The assessment process is open and any person with information regarding the fishery is invited to take part. To do so, please contact Macarena García at macarena.garcia@es.bureauveritas.com. The assessment is scheduled to take place over a period of approximately 12 months.

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