MSC assessment of OPAGAC fisheries underway

Published on
June 4, 2019

The Organization of Associated Producers of Large Freezer Tuna Freezers (OPAGAC) has contracted with certification body Lloyd’s Register to evaluate its tuna-fishing operations, a step forward in the organization’s push to achieve Marine Stewardship Council certification.

OPAGAC’s fleet operates in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans, fishing 12 different stocks of tuna, including yellowfin, skipjack, and bigeye. Collectively, it lands 380,000 metric tons of tuna per year, or 8 percent of the annual global catch. 

“This is the largest tuna fleet in the world to apply for MSC certification on this scale which shows OPAGAC’s commitment to sustainable practice and fisheries management,” Lloyd´s Register Fisheries Manager Polly Burns said in a press release. 

OPAGAC created a fishery improvement project in 2016 in collaboration with WWF, covering the entirety of its fishery. As part of the set-up of the FIP, OPAGAC contracted with consultancy MRAG to conduct a pre-assessment of the fishery. At the time, OPAGAC said it would pursue MSC certification within five years, by 2021.

“Through the important progress in the fishery improvement projects and now with the decision to enter it fisheries in three oceans for assessment, is contributing to accelerating change in the global tuna fishing sector,” MSC Director for Spain and Portugal Laura Rodríguez Zugasti said. “It is a great satisfaction for the MSC office in Spain that the Spanish tuna fishing fleet assumes leadership on the global action for sustainable fishing.”

OPAGAC said Lloyd’s Registers’ initial assessment of its fishery will be available for public comment by the end of the summer. If MSC certification is granted, OPAGAC will serve as its guarantor, overseeing the adherence of its 40 member companies to MSC standards.

“For many years, we fishermen have been clear that a fishery that is not sustainable has no future and, therefore, we want to meet the objective of our FIP and the commitment to sustainable and responsible fishing,” OPAGAC Managing Director Julio Morón said.

The potential MSC certification will be added to the certification of OPAGAC's fishery to its own Responsible Fishing Tuna Standard, known by its Spanish acronym APR. The APR certification has environmental and social requirements, including verification the fishery adheres to the 2007 International Work Organization Work in Fishing Convention (ILO 188).

“This certificate is [a] pioneer in the global fishing sector as it is the only one that guarantees best practices in the three aspects of socioeconomic, environmental and control factors. APR accredits control of fishing, good practice on board ships regarding responsible fishing, compliance with work safety and social conditions in accordance with ILO Convention 188 and maritime and health control,” Morón said in the release.

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