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Fishing boat of the fleet catching sardine in the Bay of Biscay. (Photo: MSC)

Bay of Biscay sardine fishery achieves MSC certification

  (SPAIN, 1/25/2017)

After two and a half years under evaluation, 59 purse seiners fishing for sardines in the Bay of Biscay have been awarded the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainable fisheries certification.

The vessels belong to the federation of guilds of Guipuzcoa and Vizcaya, in the Basque Country, and to the brotherhood of San Martin de Laredo, in Cantabria. The evaluation process was initiated in July 2014 and was carried out by the independent auditor Bureau Veritas.

The beneficiaries of the certification are the Organization of Inshore Fisheries Producers of Guipuzcoa (Opegui) and the Organization of Inshore Fisheries Producers of Vizcaya (Opescaya).

"The purse seine fleet of the Basque Country and Laredo, in Cantabria, fulfilling its commitment to develop a fishing activity that guarantees the sustainability of the resource, has obtained this MSC certification for the sardine," Miren Garmendia, director of Opegui, said.

"This is the third certification after obtaining others for anchovy and Northern bonito. This fishery is also of great importance for the economy of our fishermen, though in volume, it is smaller than the two previous ones. The approximate kilos landed by our fleet in 2016 amounted to 3,791 tonnes."

In the fishery in which the Basque fleet operates, two other certified fleets operate: The Cornwall one (United Kingdom) and that of Brittany (France). The MSC evaluation has been a great incentive for the three fleets involved - Spanish, French and English - in this fishery to have coordinated joint management measures. In particular, the Spanish and French fleets, in the framework of the EU Advisory Council for the South Western Waters, have committed themselves to establish catch and fishing permit limits.

They also set a commitment to full transparency and exchange of information to support the collection of scientific data. The main objective of the collaboration is the formal establishment of a management plan including catch control rules and management measures.

"The certification of the Bay of Biscay sardine shows that the MSC program is a powerful incentive for working together between different fleets and adopting more ambitious management measures. Undoubtedly, the fisheries in our program are leading the changes in many parts of the world. We want to congratulate the Basque and Laredo guilds for their commitment to the MSC program and for having a new certified species that joins the certification of the Northern bonito and anchovy achieved earlier,” Laura Rodriguez, MSC program director In Spain and Portugal, stressed.


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