Costa Vicentina bream championed by scientists, fishermen and municipalities
Photo: Diego Delso

Costa Vicentina bream championed by scientists, fishermen and municipalities.

The University of Coimbra (UC) has launched a new project called Valsargo to promote the Costa Vicentina Bream (Sargo in Portuguese) by highlighting environmentally sustainable fishing practices for the species.

Involving fishermen from that Algarve region and the municipalities of Aljezur and Vila do Bispo, Valsargo’s “main objective is the promotion and appreciation of the Costa Vicentina bream as a product of excellence”, said Tiago Verdelhos, a researcher at the Marefoz laboratory from the UC and project coordinator.

“We are providing a scientific basis to enhance this product. We will conduct a study on the fishing activity focused on this species in the region and try to understand how to promote the sustainability of this activity. The objective is not for bream to be exploited to exhaustion. On the contrary, it is to promote sustainability”, he emphasised.

Valsargo also includes an assessment of the main nutritional properties of the species, a coastal fish that lives in rocky areas, with an oval, silvery shape, and which has vertical black stripes and a spot next to the tail.

“To be able to say that the bream from the Costa Vicentina is the best, it is necessary to have a scientific basis that allows us to say that it is a product of excellence”, pointed out Tiago Verdelhos.

On the other hand, “a strategy to promote bream and involve the different partners” of the project is being developed. A network that encompasses the two Costa Vicentina municipalities, local fishermen’s associations, Docapesca, funding agencies and bodies linked to the environment, agriculture and fisheries.

To promote the product continued Tiago Verdelhos, a brand was developed – a logo representing a fish on top of two waves that “can be used by different entities”. Also, in May, the Sargo da Costa Vicentina Festival was organised. It featured menus and dishes “specially created” for the event in local restaurants.

Other initiatives included the Jornadas do Sargo (Bream Days), an opportunity for debates on fishing and commercialisation, as well as school campaigns.

Recently, the Coimbra University team collaborated with a professor from Figueira da Foz’s Professional School, the municipality where the Marefoz laboratory is based, to create a “special bream recipe”, presented and tasted at a work event that brought together several European researchers.

The project will also include other demonstration and tasting sessions. It will culminate with the development of an itinerary for the Costa Vicentina bream, indicating the main places associated with the fish, from restaurants to fishermen’s associations and tourist spots.

“This is our promotion strategy”, summarised Tiago Verdelhos.

As part of the UCMar blue economy programme, the Valsargo project also aims to promote artisanal fishing and increase the tourist potential of the region where it can be found. It is supported by European funds from MAR2020 through the Associação de Desenvolvimento do Barlavento Algarvio.