First Spanish fishery seeks certification to MSC standard for sustainability

July 5, 2010 14:45

The Grupo Regal Spanish hake longline fishery, from the northeast Atlantic, will be assessed against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable and well managed fisheries. This is the first Spanish fishery to seek MSC certification and the first longline hake fishery to enter the MSC programme, reports with reference to MSC.

The client for the assessment is Grupo Regal. Two of their fishing vessels target hake (Merluccius Merluccius) in the EU northern stock. If successful, hake products from the fishery will be eligible to bear the blue MSC ecolabel. The MSC's blue ecolabel gives consumers a quick and easy way to identify the best environmental choice in seafood.

As part of the MSC certification process, the status of the entire northern hake stock will be assessed against the MSC standard. Grupo Regal has announced its willingness to share the certificate with other Spanish licensed longliners targeting the European northern hake stock. If the fishery is certified, Spanish-licensed vessels operating in the area, will also be able to display the MSC logo on their catch subject to negotiations on joining the certificate with Grupo Regal.

MSC runs the most rigorous certification and eco-labeling programme for sustainability in wild-capture fisheries. An independent evaluation of the Spanish hake longline fishery will be conducted by a team of experts who will examine the status of the fish stock, the impact fishing has on the marine environment and the effectiveness of the fishery management system.
About the Spanish hake longline fishery

The Spanish hake fishery dates back to the mid-20th century. The EU northern hake stock is currently targeted by approximately 50 Spanish longliners. Hake longliners are based in other Spanish fishing ports such as Celeiro, Burela, Aviles, Ondarroa , Vigo, Riveira and Cedeira.

Management arrangements for Spanish vessels operating in this area are determined by the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the European Union. The overall allocated TAC for hake in EU waters is 51,500 tonnes for 2010. All Spanish licensed vessels have a total allocated TAC of around 11,000 tonnes of which the total annual catch for Grupo Regal is 1,100 tonnes. About 98% of their total production is sold in the domestic market, while a further 2% is exported to France.
Grupo Regal's commitment to sustainability

Mr Juan Antonio Regal, Managing Director, said: "We'd like to prove our commitment to sustainability and we have chosen the MSC programme because of its international renown, its credibility and its science-based and rigorous methodology for the certification of well-managed and sustainable wild-capture fisheries.  We'd like to be the first fishery in Spain to work with the MSC to help develop a sustainable seafood market for future generations. We hope that consumers will value what makes our hake different: wild, fresh, of high quality, longline-caught, fished responsibly and sustainably and traceable from European waters."
MSC welcomes first Spanish fishery

Nicolas Guichoux, MSC European regional director, said: "The entry of the Spanish hake longline fleet in the programme is another milestone for the MSC in southern Europe and Spain in particular. Hake is one of the most popular European seafood products and we very much welcome Grupo Regal's decision to move forward into full assessment. There is growing demand for independently certified sustainable hake around the world and Grupo Regal's entry into full assessment brings the total number of hake fisheries now engaged in the MSC programme to 7. I wish them all the best for this assessment and hope they will be successful in getting their certification."

Alma Román, Commercial Officer - Spain, commented: "Grupo Regal's decision to undergo full assessment reflects the group's visionary approach: they recognise that retailers are placing sustainability at the heart of their business strategies, and they want to be well positioned to meet demand for certified longline hake. Grupo Regal, through seeking certification, are leading their field. We hope other fisheries will follow in their footsteps."
About the certifier

The assessment will be carried out by independent certifier Food Certification International. The MSC standard and methodology requires certifiers to consult and include stakeholder views as an integral part of the assessment process. If you would like to be involved as a stakeholder, please contact Melissa McFadden, Fisheries Assessment Coordinator, Food Certification International, at  It is anticipated that the assessment will be completed within 12 months.

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