Press release

First octopus fishery achieves MSC certification

February 11, 2016

In a world’s first, a Spanish octopus fishery has become certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard. Made up of four artisanal fishing guilds from western Asturias, octopus from this fishery can now carry the MSC ecolabel, assuring consumers that it comes from a certified sustainable source.

The MSC Standard is the world’s most renowned and credible standard for environmentally sustainable wild-caught seafood. The octopus fishery now joins a leading group of more than 280 MSC certified fisheries that are helping to ensure healthy marine ecosystems for the future.

The Asturian fishing guilds Nuestra Señora de la Atalaya de Puerto de Vega, Nuestra Señora de la Caridad de Ortiguera, Santo Ángel de la Guarda de Viavélez and San Pedro de Tapia de Casariego, jointly entered MSC full assessment to demonstrate the sustainability of their practices and the health of the stock. The fleet is made up of 27 boats based in the Navia-Porcía region of western Asturias and employs only artisanal fishers.

A representative from the four guilds, Adolfo García Méndez Main, skipper of Fishermen Association of Nuestra Señora de la Atalaya, Puerto de la Vega said: “We are very pleased to be the first octopus fishery in the world to be recognised as sustainable. Achieving MSC certification is a recognition of our commitment to sustainability. It’s been more than a year of hard work from all of us artisanal fishers from the West Asturias region. We are committed to protecting our ocean because we know that the future of our coastal communities and the sustainability of the environment depends on it”

Octopus, an attractive species throughout the region

The octopus is an extraordinary animal, capable of changing its colour, texture and shape to escape from predators. The octopus is a valuable species particularly in Mediterranean countries. It is also of immense importance to the fishing industry in western Asturias, due to its economic value and the social impact on coastal towns in the region.

Laura Rodríguez, MSC Spain and Portugal Country Manager said: "Today’s certification is pioneering. One of the priorities for the MSC in Spain and Portugal is to encourage more local fisheries to join the program, in order to expand our offer of locally-sourced certified sustainable seafood. We congratulate the Navia-Porcía guilds on their commitment to sustainability and wish them much success with the promotion of MSC-certified Asturian octopus.”

An independent evaluation 

Bureau Veritas (BV), an independent certification assessment body assessed the fishery and found the octopus stocks to be healthy and the fishery well managed, with only minimal impact on the marine ecosystem. With a team of fishery science and policy experts, BV evaluated the fishery according to the three principles of the MSC Fisheries Standard: the health of the stock; the impact of fishing on the marine environment; and the management of the fishery.

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