Atlantic Ocean Tuna – OPAGAC

Fishery Improvement Projects

Atlantic Ocean Tuna – OPAGAC

  • Species Name: Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus).
  • Location/Region: Atlantic Ocean, ICCAT area of competence, FAO Areas 31 and 34
  • Gear Type: Purse seine
  • Volume: 95,000 mt

Home | Fisheries | Transitioning Fisheries | Atlantic Ocean Tuna – OPAGAC

Atlantic Ocean Tuna Purse Seine


MSC Certified: December 8, 2021
Last Updated: July 2022

After working for several years with WWF, OPAGAC—an amalgamation of nine Spanish purse seine tuna companies—entered the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) full assessment process in September 2020, and received MSC certification on December 8, 2021.

In the tropical waters of the Atlantic, OPAGAC represents 18 purse seine vessels, catching approximately 28% of the region’s total tropical tuna catch. Most of the fleet’s tuna is processed in regional facilities with most of the canned product exported to markets in Europe.

The management measures adopted by the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) have not been effective to maintain the catches of tropical tuna stocks at the agreed levels. As an example, bigeye tuna is currently overfished and overfishing is occurring. There are also problems with data available for some important fleets (e.g. Ghana, Brazil).

The active involvement of FIP Stakeholders, including International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), Pew Charitable Trusts, AZTI, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) and the Spanish Secretary-General for Fisheries (SGP), drove improvements against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard.




FIPs provide a step-by-step approach to bring fishery management practices up to the MSC standard. With support from FIP participants and FIP stakeholders, the FIP achieved several important goals that enabled it to earn certification, including:
  • Released eight years of data from their fish aggregating devices (FADs), which included information on geolocation and the presence and abundance of fish underneath them. This information can contribute to stock assessments for tropical tuna species, particularly skipjack;

  • Provided technical inputs and new data to ICCAT to develop alternative management options, including research revealing the potential benefits for ICCAT’s management to consider replacing the existing total allowable catches (TACs) of tropical tunas with fishery closures for its purse seine component;

  • Worked with scientists to estimate post-release survival rates of bycatch, finding that whale sharks released with best practices have a high survival rate;

  • Promoted improved governance and better compliance with ICCAT requirements and measures by advocating for the use of electronic monitoring systems (EMS) by sharing experiences and lessons learned;

  • Provided capacity-building assistance to support São Tomé e Príncipe’s compliance with ICCAT’s Regional Observer Programme.


We encourage action across the supply chain to support FIP progress. A FIP Participant is an industry member that is part of the seafood supply chain for the FIP product and is actively engaged in supporting the FIP.

©Kyle LaFerriere / WWF-US

Get FIP Updates Delivered Straight to Your Inbox

October 3, 2019

Do you want to receive monthly updates on how your favorite FIPs are coming along? subscribers can use the “Follow This FIP” tool to receive monthly emails from FisheryProgress highlighting major changes in the improvement projects they choose to follow.