Spain works at sustainable fishing

"50 percent of the world's carbon dioxide is captured by plankton. If we do too much damage to the sea we risk losing that. We are killing the reservoirs that can capture CO2," warned Uriarte.

As the Spanish side has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference COP25, some initiatives to save the oceans have been implemented in the country.

One of the initiatives on sustainable fishing can be found in the town of Bermeo in the Basque region in north Spain.

At the picturesque but busy port of Bermeo where 6,000 of the 18,000 inhabitants work in jobs related to fishing, they know the consequences of overfishing all too well.

“In 2003 stocks of anchovies were slashed and there was a crash in population numbers. There was no anchovy fishing for five years and it was a big wake-up call for the fishing industry,” Ignacio Serrats, president of Conservas Serrats, a Bermeo-based fish cannery, told Xinhua.

Given that anchovies are a baitfish close to the bottom of the food chain, the crash in anchovy population also affected fish such as mackerel which feed on them and larger fish which then eat mackerel, said Serrats.

“In Bermeo, sustainability is absolutely vital,” added Serrats.

A local fishing industry association, Bermeo Tuna World Capital, was established in 2018 and aims at promoting the sustainable management of tuna through scientific knowledge and leadership of good practices at a global level.

The Bermeo World Tuna Capital agenda focuses on a close collaboration between science and fishing and also the integration of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

This involves using a code of “good practices” which is revised on an annual basis with the aim of more responsible fishing and reducing the accidental capture of other species and the zero toleration of the capture of whales or dolphins.

Nets are also revised to ensure this while fish are tagged and stocks are closely monitored to ensure no overfishing.

Much of this is carried out with the help of AZTI, a non-profit foundation based in the Basque region with focus on sustainable fisheries management, protection of an efficient marine ecosystem and combating climate change.

“AZTI is one of the organizations that know the most about the sea. So we follow their indications. They are very important for Bermeo Tuna,” commented Serrats, adding that “It’s a mix of science and tradition.”

Adolfo Uriarte from AZTI also highlighted the need to fish sustainably.

He stressed that the oceans have a vital role to play in the fight against climate change, due to their ability to capture carbon dioxide (CO2).

“50 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide is captured by plankton. If we do too much damage to the sea we risk losing that. We are killing the reservoirs that can capture CO2,” warned Uriarte.