First diver-caught razor clam fishery certified

The small-scale razor clam (Ensis arcuatus) fishery operation in Ría de Pontevedra has been MSC certified The small-scale razor clam (Ensis arcuatus) fishery operation in Ría de Pontevedra has been MSC certified

Cofradía de Pescadores San Martiño de Bueu has been awarded MSC certification for its small-scale razor clam fishery operations in Ría de Pontevedra.

This is the first Spanish shellfish fishery and the world’s first diver-caught razor clam fishery to become MSC certified.

Razor clams captured in Ría de Pontevedra are hand-caught by divers, known as navalleiros, who dive to the bottom to find the clams, buried in the sand on the seabed. Traditionally, divers used no scuba gear or other breathing devices, and normally had to make several dives in order to complete their catch, although nowadays external breathing systems are normally used. One kilogram of razor clams usually consists of about 40 units.

Pontevedra’s ria, or estuary, is divided into seven fishing areas, rotated regularly according to stock status in order to ensure resources are maintained at sustainable levels. Each day, divers visit a single area, where they fish from 8.00am to 2.00pm. The area is equipped with a check point, from where the day’s work is monitored and controlled.

On completion of the process, the certificate is now held by Cofradía San Martiño de Bueu, made up of nine divers and seven boats. The certificate also extends to the other cofradías (fishermen associations)operating on the Ría: Portonovo, Sanxenxo, Raxó, Pontevedra, Lourizán, and Marín, totalling 39 fishers and 26 boats, all of whom can now attach the MSC label to their catches, providing they are landed at Bueu.

José Manuel Rosas Otero, Patrón Mayor of Cofradía de Bueu, had this to say: "Galician small-scale fishing and Cofradía de Pescadores de Bueu believe in sustainability, and having MSC certification for our razor clams is a great endorsement for an industry that believes that an important part of our work involves guaranteeing stocks for the future. We also expect that this will be reflected in the price paid for our clams, which are, moreover, an excellent product.”

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