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Certified octopus fishery

With the support of Axis 4, a Spanish octopus fishery became the world’s first to receive Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, opening up new marketing opportunities to the local fleet.

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The fleet of 27 artisanal boats from western Asturias catches local octopus in traps and prides itself on the sustainability of its activities. Indeed, compared to octopus fisheries in other areas which are often active 11 months a year, this one restricts catching to a 6 month period. However, the fleet enjoyed little recognition of its quality standards and its octopus was generally sold by wholesalers with no mention of its origin or sustainability. In order, therefore, to differentiate their product and draw attention to the sustainability of their fishery, the four fishing organisations, or “cofradías”, which represented the fleet teamed up to explore the possibility of applying for MSC certification, a globally recognized certification scheme promoting seafood sustainability.

The process of obtaining MSC labelling can be time consuming and expensive for the small-scale sector and the Navia-Porcía FLAG was instrumental in supporting the idea, funding, for example, a pre-evaluation, in collaboration with scientists and fishermen, to collect and analyse data. This pre-assessment was led by an independent certification consultant and concluded that octopus stocks in the area were indeed healthy and the fishery well managed. Given the positive results, the FLAG went on to support a full assessment, involving a team of fisheries, science and policy experts from the same consultancy to evaluate the fishery according to three principles: the health of the stocks; the impact of fishing on the marine environment; and the management of the fishery. The project resulted in the western Asturias octopus fishery receiving MSC recognition through its eco-label.

  • Results: The local fishery can now carry the iconic MSC logo, opening up new marketing avenues and opportunities for western Asturias octopus. Indeed, in terms of first sale prices, these have already increased by €1.5 per kilo (a 29% increase on the original price).  

    Transferability: Adding value to local fisheries products is a priority objective for many FLAGs. Certification may help local producers differentiate specific qualities of their products, for which the active participation of the fishermen or fish farmers is fundamental, as is their commitment to sustainable practices in the case of eco-certification.

  • Lessons: It is important to bear in mind that obtaining such types of certification can be a lengthy process and the results won't be immediate. Indeed, the certification of a specific fisheries will usually need to be accompanied by a promotional campaign or marketing effort in order to communicate the added value of the product.
  • Contribution to CLLD objective: adding value, creating jobs, attracting young people and promoting innovation at all stages of the supply chain of fishery and aquaculture products

Total project cost and funding

Total project cost:€ 43 977.45 
(a) FLAG grant:€ 36 345.00 (82.64% of total project cost) 
  -EMFF contribution:    € 27 258.75  
  -Other public contribution:    € 9 086.25 (Contribution from the Regional Government) 
(b)Beneficiary contribution: €7 632.45 (17.36% of total project cost from Cofradía de Puerto de Vega) 

Beneficiary     FLAG details

Cofradía de Pescadores Nuestra Señora de la Atalaya
Adolfo García Méndez

 Navia-Porcía, Spain
Email: cptovega (at)  Email:info (at)
Telephone: +34 985 64 88 28 Telephone: +34 985474951
FLAG Facthseet  

Project information

  • Official project title in Member State language: Certificación de la pesquería local de pulpo (Octopus vulgaris) bajo los criterios del estándar “Marine Stewardship Council” (M.S.C).
  • Official project title translated into EN: Certification of local octopus fishery by the “Marine Stewardship Council” (MSC)
  • Implementation duration: February 2014 until February 2016
  • Case study date: August 2016

Key words: certification, labelling, adding value, environment, sustainability