Overall objective

The project aims to develop new markets and products based on cephalopods (squid, octopus, cuttlefish), increasing the profitability of the value chain, and helping to make fishers more competitive in the Atlantic Area.

It will enhance capacity to deal with economic challenges arising from the Landing Obligation, globalization of markets, etc., while assuring sustainable fishing.

Cephalopod stocks are not subject to quota management at EU level and opportunities exist to further develop fisheries and markets.

The project will connect fishermen to new markets for cephalopod products, add value to existing products, and aim for better prices for cephalopods from the Atlantic Area.

Biological and socioeconomic sustainability will be carefully audited throughout the project.

The objectives of the proposed project are to:

a) Add value to cephalopod products: development and promotion of new products, new market initiatives (e.g. certification) and business opportunities for this sector

b) Improve knowledge of the value chain (“from sea to table”), factors affecting sustainability in the short term (e.g., low prices, imports, consumer demand) and potential market developments in the long term

c) Improve knowledge of eating habits and acceptance of new cephalopod food products by consumers in North and South Europe

d) Ensure sustainability of fishing activity by assessing status of stocks, fisheries and ecosystems based on biological and socioeconomic indicators.

Common Challenge

Food security, sustainable development and diversification of fisheries are strategically important across the EU. Atlantic Area fleets are over-reliant on a few ‘high-value’ fish species, some of which are becoming economically unviable due to reduced abundance and strict regulation. One way to address this challenge is to broaden the appeal of less-developed and non-quota species such as cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish, octopus), which are fished across the Atlantic Area, with similar (transnational) challenges, including poor species identification, no stock assessment, and competition from lowpriced international imports.

However, very different markets exist: “mature” southern consumer markets (e.g., Spain, Portugal) are well-developed for cephalopods, indeed Spain imports cephalopods from northern Europe. Other national markets are under-developed (“emerging”) and require investment to promote increased consumption of these products. Thus, the Irish fleet lands cephalopod catches directly into Spain, but this practice may be suboptimal.

Low prices for fishery products are a problem across the sector. An informed strategy is needed to add value to cephalopod products (e.g. sustainability certification). Food security depends on long-term sustainability of the fisheries and fished stocks and minimizing harm to the environment. The challenges addressed are aligned with the Atlantic Plan for the Atlantic Area and the project will also inform future policy on these resources.

What is new?

There has not been a previous project to develop the commercialization of cephalopods in the INTERREG Atlantic Area, although projects on brown crab (ACRUNET) and low-intensity aquaculture (SEAFARE) were supported previously. Novelty in this sense is coupled with obvious opportunity: cephalopods have a varied profile across the Atlantic Area, from being highly prized to routinely discarded, depending on species and region, which offers a good chance of success in developing these fisheries. There are numerous examples of seafood species which were transformed from unwanted discards to valuable commercial species (e.g. monkfish). The present project is timely and presents an opportunity to replicate this success with cephalopods, with a comprehensive package of outputs that are unlikely to occur without INTERREG support. Outputs include ways for producers to link with wholesalers in Europe and internationally, the potential for adding value via sustainability certification, smoked or ready meals, and increasing market reach using promotional activities via chef’s engagement, running demonstration actions, linking in to regional gastronomy events, international seafood tradeshows, with the precise approach being adapted to the regional context. Underpinning these outputs will be an emphasis on achieving long-term sustainability for these fisheries (both biological and socio-economic), as well as a strategy and network to allow maritime business to adapt to current challenges.

Transnational approach

The Atlantic economy has a strong maritime dimension, with a traditionally strong fishing industry. However, the sector is under pressure in all Member States due to stock depletion, economic fluctuations, and changing regulations and markets. In this proposal, businesses across the Area are responding to opportunities that exist to develop targeted fisheries for squid, octopus and cuttlefish in northern Europe for sale in new markets,