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Bay of Biscay sardine fishery enters MSC full assessment

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has announced that the Producers Organisation for Inshore Fishing of Gipuzkoa (OPEGUI), the Producers Organisation for Inshore Fishing of Biscay (OPESCAYA) and the San Martín de Laredo Fishermen’s Guild have entered MSC full assessment in order to certify the sustainability of their sardine (Sardina pilchardus) fishery operations in the Bay of Biscay. 

If the assessment is successful, all sardine captured by this fleet will be eligible to bear the blue MSC ecolabel, offering consumers a quick and easy way of contributing to a future full of fish. The evaluation will be performed independently, as part of a participatory process, under the rigorous and science based MSC environmental standard for sustainable fisheries.

Certification open to other Bay of Biscay seiner boats 

After the Cantabrian Sea anchovy fishery entered MSC standard assessment last month, the Inshore Fishing Producers Organisations of Biscay and Gipuzkoa, which are part of the anchovy purse-seine fleet of the Basque and San Martín de Laredo fishermen’s guilds, have also decided to submit their Bay of Biscay sardine fishery for full MSC evaluation.

An open certification system has been established. This means that the certification could be shared with other guilds and seiner boats in the Bay of Biscay fleet which may be eligible to display the blue MSC ecolabel on their sardine catches.

Sardine fishing operations take place in the Bay of Biscay (FAO Area 27, sub-area VIIIb) in February, March, April and the final quarter (particularly October and November) of each year. The fishing method used is purse-seine and the certification would cover 58 boats belonging to the Federation of Guilds of Guipuzcoa and Vizcaya and the San Martín de Laredo Guild. In 2013, these fleets had a combined catch of approximately 8000 tonnes.

Committed to safeguard the sustainability of marine resources and their fishing operations

Submitting Bay of Biscay sardine fishery for MSC assessment reinforces the commitment of the Basque and San Martín guilds with sustainability. 

Representatives from the guilds have declared that they hope the MSC certification will highlight and reinforce their strong commitment to continuing developing a responsible and sustainable management of their activity and the stocks they fish. This commitment includes undergoing the MSC evaluation process for their sardine fishing operations. 

MSC declarations

Laura Rodríguez, MSC Spain and Portugal Country Manager, explains, “The assessment of a new fishery headed by the Basque fleet and open to other Bay of Biscay operators is great news for the MSC program. Sardine from other MSC certified fisheries is already available in more than 20 countries; particularly canned but fresh sardine is also beginning to become available. Having new fleets assessed for this species is of enormous interest to companies and distributors who are committed to ocean sustainability”.

About the certifier

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 sardine 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 Jacobo Nóvoa at [email protected]

Press contact

Cátia Meira, MSC communications officer, Spain and Portugal - Email: [email protected] - mobile: +34 637 557 646