According to Jorge Romón, head of projects at Vigo’s Shipowners’ Co-operative, the basic idea behind this EU project is to promote an economic activity centred around cephalopods, as already exists in Spain and Portugal, generating an exchange of expertise between chefs and fishermen in these south European countries with their counterparts in France, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Since cephalopods are very popular in Spain and Portugal, and this is where the chefs are at their most creative, these are highly active markets attracting catches from EU waters. This project sets out to balance out this situation. The venture is designed to improve cephalopod markets, creating new products and an integrated evaluation of the cephalopod fisheries.
Once participating northern European countries launch innovations in local cuisine, hopes are that this will generate a complementary fishing activity for fishermen, while in Spain and Portugal, benefits are expected to include a growth in gastronomic tourism. From the point of view of all the countries taking part, there will be a broader market for cephalopod product and more know-how on the sustainability of the fishery.
The project is headed by the National University of Galway in Ireland, alongside the Galway Major Institute of Technology and the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation CLG. Participation in the United Kingdom comes from the Marine Stewardship Council and the fishing company Atlantic Gate.
The University of Caen in France, and in Portugal the University of Aveiro, the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere and the Association of Fishing Shipowners of Fuzeta are participants. In Spain, the University of Santiago de Compostela, the Oceanographic Centre of Vigo in the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, technology company Quadralia the Shipowners’ Cooperative of the Port of Vigo (ARVI) are involved.
‘The ultimate aim of the INTERREG EUROPE EU programmes is to interrelate different areas on borders or have common interests. The University of Galway, which is the leader of this project, thought it would be interesting to look into cephalopods as regards sustainability, involving transfer of culinary skills from the south to the north, while developing new products and to make the results known,’ Jorge Romón explained.
‘Increasing catches is not an objective, although the results will mean more scientific knowledge of cephalopods. This is a species not subject to TACs or quotas. The fisheries already being pursued in these waters will become more fruitful in the long term. Another result of this programme will be that, instead of exporting these species to Spain and Portugal with a low value – we are talking about hammerhead octopus, cuttlefish from Grand Sole, which has a lower value than the species caught here in the Galician rias, and flying squid – they will be effectively revalued.’
He said that as a new market is opened in Ireland, the UK or France, where cephalopods are given added value, the need to transport them to Spain and Portugal where they have a modest value will be eliminated, which would be beneficial for all concerned.
‘In addition to this, there is the nutritional factor as well as the fact that they are delicious,’ he said, commenting that in Spain and Portugal, there are already numerous food festivals for species such as octopus in the Algarve, various parts of Portugal and Galicia.
Following the launching of this project in December 2017 at a meeting held in Galway, the next stakeholders’ meeting is scheduled to be held in Vigo during the second Seafest.