Spanish tuna industry shoots for MSC accreditation with help from WWF

An organization representing 40 Spanish purse seine tuna trawlers has committed to improving its fishing operations with the goal of reaching Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation within five years.

The Organization of Associated Producers of Large Tuna Freezers (OPAGAC) is working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to launch a Fishery Improvement Project to establish better fishing management and practices for its global tuna fleet. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), are not adequately protecting tropical tuna species, such as bigeye tuna in the Western Pacific Ocean, yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean and Atlantic bigeye tuna, from overfishing.

“The owners of OPAGAC have been working for a long time to increase the accountability and sustainability of their tuna fishing, goals that the organization shares with WWF,” OPAGAC Director Dr. Julio Morón said. “We expect that this collaboration can promote the principles of sustainable fishing in the RFMOs.”

In the first phase of the collaboration, OPAGAC hired fisheries consulting firm MRAG to conduct a pre-assessment of OPAGAC tuna fisheries. With that information, WWF and OPAGAC are working together to create a Fishery Improvement Project establish a better management framework for the OPAGAC fleet. The FIP will align with MSC sustainability standards and set the fishery up for MSC certification in five years.

“This global agreement with OPAGAC allows WWF to work with a decisive partner to move forward on the sustainability of tropical tuna fisheries,” said José Luis García Varas, head of the Marine Programme at WWF Spain.


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