Anchovies from Getaria (Spain)

Facts & Figures

follows soon
Getaria, Spain

“If we want to continue enjoying fish, we must accept our responsibility!”

Anchovy fisher Nemesio Manterola sees it as a challenge to fish as sustainably as possible. “We live in a great country full of beautiful beaches, wild seas, and delicious fish. Amazing as those things are, they’re all we have, so if we want to pass them on to the next generation, we have to keep working on the future.” (Nemesio is now enjoying his well-deserved retirement, so we’re trying to find a worthy successor. Nemesio, thank you for all the delicious anchovies!)

Image not found

A good catch

The fishermen in Getaria look out for shoals of anchovies from a type of boat known as a purse seine. As soon as they locate one, they circle it with a net, which forms a kind of purse when it’s pulled closed at the bottom.

Read more
Because anchovies swim in compact shoals, this a very selective and environmentally-friendly fishing method. In 2015, Getaria became the first anchovy fishery in Europe to be awarded MSC certification.

Traditional gender roles in Getaria

If you see women walking down the quay in Getaria carrying small chairs and sewing kits, chances are that soon after you’ll see a fishing boat coming into the harbor. The Spanish region of Cantabria is still very traditional when it comes to the division of labor. The men do the tough job of finding the best Cantabrian anchovies out at sea, and on their return it’s the women who repair the nets with needle and twine. It’s a family affair!

Read more
In 2005 the fishing community in Getaria was not doing well at all. After years of overfishing the European Union sanctioned fishing for Cantabrian anchovies, because the anchovy-stock was far from healthy. For three thousand men and women whose livelihood was dependent on the fishing industry, this was a disastrous decision - but after a recuperation period of five years, the sanction was released. In 2015 their hard work got rewarded with being the first MSC-certified anchovy-fishery in Europe.

Gastronomy in the Basque Country

The Basque Country in Spain is known for its rich culinary culture, and anchovies are a staple on every menu. The fishermen themselves are keen cooks, too, and often spend their weekends in the kitchen. They’re all members of a “sociedad gastronómica”, a traditional cooking club. Picture long tables with entire families getting together for lunch or dinner, and recipes being passed down from generation to generation. When it’s not canned, the anchovy is often prepared the traditional way: grilled with garlic and sea salt – mouthwateringly simple!

Image not found


Small but packing a punch – that sums up the anchovy. This little powerhouse looks a bit like the herring and comes from a big family of over 140 subspecies that are found all over the world. It feeds on plankton and newly hatched fry, and like the sardine it’s an oily fish. This Cantabrian variety is a bit bigger than our Argentine anchovy.