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First ever European anchovy fishery receives MSC certification

The first ever European Anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) fishery has been awarded Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for sustainability.

The Cantabrian sea (Bay of Biscay) anchovy fleet is made up of the Spanish Inshore Producers Organisations from Viscaya (OPESCAYA) and Guipúzcoa (OPEGUI) (part of the Basque fishermen’s guild and San Martin de Laredo fishermen’s guild).

Between 2005 and 2010, the fishery was closed down to enable it to upgrade its management methods, so the achievement of MSC certification is especially welcome news. It’s also an important recognition of the joint work by the fleet, the government and scientific organisations in favour of sustainability.

Speaking on behalf of the fleet, Miren Garmendia, Secretary of the Federation of Fishing Guilds of Gipuzkoa noted that the MSC certification is a major milestone for this fishery:

"Cantabrian anchovy fishers have been supporting responsible fishing for years, using a selective fishing method like the purse seine. By submitting to MSC full assessment, the Basque and Laredo anchovy fishermen wanted to take it up another notch. We expect the certification will add value to our product in national and international markets. We want our anchovy fishery to be known worldwide for its quality and for the great work performed by our fishermen in favour of sustainability. Consumers can rest assured that they are buying an anchovy that has been captured according to the internationally-accepted sustainability MSC standard and that they will always be able to trace our product back to its source, the Cantabrian Sea”

The certification was awarded after an independent assessment by accredited certification body, Bureau Veritas, against the MSC Fisheries Standard. The fishery was evaluated for stock sustainability, minimising of environmental impacts and effective management.

At a news conference Leandro Azkue, the Basque director for Fisheries and Aquaculture said, "MSC is one of the most important international sustainability standards, endorsed by the scientific community and increasingly supported by consumers around the world. This certification confirms that our fleet fishes sustainably and also puts us before the eyes of the world."

Anchovy fishing operations in the Cantabrian Sea are conducted using purse seine nets, a surface fishing method with low bycatch, according to the certification report. The certification covers 58 boats, which in 2013 had a total catch of 7000 tonnes. Most fish is caught between March and June.

Laura Rodríguez, MSC Spain and Portugal Country Manager, said, "We congratulate the Basque fleet and Laredo fishermen’s guild for their Europe-leading decision to submit their anchovy fishery to MSC full assessment. It is great news that they have successfully undergone evaluation to our standard. It also demonstrates how good management helped the recovery of this fishery and how the fleet is committed to the best fishing practices and long-term sustainability."