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You are here: Home News & events News The Basque group, Pesqueras Echebastar is the first European tropical tuna fishery to seek MSC certification
Elai Alai, a vessel operating in the Indian Ocean

Elai Alai, a vessel operating in the Indian Ocean

The Basque group, Pesqueras Echebastar is the first European tropical tuna fishery to seek MSC certification

Jan 22, 2013

Tuna fishery, Pesqueras Echebastar, today entered into independent, third-party assessment for certification to the Marine Stewarship Council [1] standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. It is the first Spanish tropical tuna fishery entering the MSC full assessment.

 If successful, skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), bigeye (Thunnus obesus) and yellowfin  (T. albacares) tuna captured by this fishery in the Indian Ocean will be eligible to carry the MSC blue ecolabel. The MSC ecolabel offers consumers assurance that the product can be traced to a sustainable source, providing an easy way to make the best environmental choice in seafood.

Pesqueras Echebastar, a global leader in technology and environmental innovation in tuna harvesting

Pesqueras Echebastar is a family company that has been fishing tuna since 1967. The company headquarters are in Bermeo, a small village on the Basque coast where the major part of the tuna fleet is established.  The seafood processing industry also has an important presence there, making Bermeo a center for tuna fishing, creating high levels of employment at a national and local level.

The six Units of Certification comprise of six vessels that operate in the Indian Ocean. The fishing method is purse seine, using both free school and Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs).   

 What Echebastar says

“This process of certification is another effort from Pesqueras Echebastar to be at the forefront of the industry in environmental sustainability, quality and fishing traceability.

Kepa Etxebarria, Echebastar Chief Executive, said: “This process of certification is another effort from Pesqueras Echebastar to be at the forefront of the industry in environmental sustainability, quality and fishing traceability. We are involved in the search for solutions to reduce bycatch of tuna purse seine vessels and to implement and develop fishing nets that do not entangle other species and which are biodegradable at the same time.

 “For this, we actively collaborate with the following public and private institutions: AZTI (Marine and Food Technological Centre) and PIE (Maritime Station of Plentzia) which are both part of the Basque Country University. We also co-direct a PhD thesis to improve the quality and development of new products, we participate in projects like GAP2 (www.gap2.eu) and attend workshops organised by ISSF - International Seafood Sustainability Foundation.

 “At the moment, all our fleet has developed good practical fishing protocols within the European Union 7th Framework Program, with the goal of targeting markets that appreciate the quality and sustainability of our fishing”, explains Kepa Etxebarria.

What the MSC says

Laura Rodriguez, Spain and Portugal MSC country manager said: “Echebastar is a family company that has learned how to evolve, integrating major innovations for tuna fishing, including the reduction of its environmental impact. There is great demand for MSC-certified tuna globally, and we are very pleased that one of the representatives of the Spanish tuna fleet has decided to join the MSC program.  We wish them success in their MSC assessment.”

About the certifier

Food Certification International (FCI) will conduct the assessment of this fishery against the MSC standard. The team will assess the fishery on the basis of the three MSC environmental principles with regard to sustainable fish stocks, environmental impact on the marine ecosystem, and the effective management of fishing operations. 

Anyone with a stake in the fishery can be involved in the assessment. If you would like to be involved please contact Melissa McFadden at melissa.mcfadden@foodcertint.com.  The full assessment will have a duration of approximately 12 months.

More information

For media inquiries, please contact Cátia Meira at or by the phone +34 637 55 76 46.

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