First European hake MSC certification awarded
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) announced that the Grupo Regal line-caught hake (Merluccius merluccius) fishery has been certified to the MSC standard for sustainable, well-managed fisheries following an independent full assessment.
The certification was awarded to longline fishing boats operated by Grupo Regal and associated companies. The certification is open, meaning that it can be shared with other Spanish longline boats fishing for north-eastern Atlantic cod, which would also be eligible to display the MSC blue ecolabel on their catches.
Line-caught hake fishing operations are performed in the Great Sole area of the North-eastern Atlantic Ocean (FAO Fishing Area 27), in European waters. The certification unit consists of two ships, which together had catches of 1800 metric tons in 2013. Hake is caught using longlines, a selective technique with a minimal impact on the environment that rarely catches smaller, spawning fish.
Grupo Regal has also incorporated a code of conduct, allowing it to plan a catch strategy aimed at maintaining sustainable and responsible fishing activity. The code of conduct includes protocols for reducing catches of seabirds and cutting down on rejects, reducing the impact on vulnerable marine ecosystems and protected areas, and waste management.
Grupo Regal is a family-owned company founded in 1964. In 2010, it obtained MSC certification for its toothfish fishing operations. At present, the entire Grupo Regal fleet has MSC certification.
“This certification rewards our commitment to supply the market with fresh, line-caught Spanish hake, a natural product with extraordinary quality and with the assurance that it was caught sustainably and with respect for the environment, contributing to the improvement of fishing resources for this generation of fishers and the generations that will follow," said Juan Antonio Regal, Grupo Regal director.
"Hake is one of the most sought-after species in Spain and throughout Europe,” said Laura Rodríguez, MSC Spain and Portugal country manager. “This certification is an important step, making line-caught European hake with the MSC ecolabel available at fish markets and fresh fish counters throughout Spain.”