Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna – OPAGAC

Fishery Improvement Projects

Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna - OPAGAC

  • Species Name: Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus).
  • Location/Region: Eastern Pacific Ocean, IATTC area of competence
  • Gear Type: Purse seine
  • Volume: 80,000 mt

© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF
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Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Purse Seine


FIP Stage: 4 (Improvements in Fishing Practices or Fishery Management)
Last Updated: April 2020

In the tropical waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, OPAGAC represents 14 purse seine vessels, catching approximately 10% the region’s total tropical tuna catch. Most of the fleet’s tuna is processed in regional facilities with the canned product exported to markets in Europe.

The active involvement of FIP Stakeholders, including Eastern Pacific Ocean tropical tuna-purse seine (TUNACONS), 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), drives improvements against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard.

© Pep Nogués, ICS


FIP efforts address governance, fishing practices, and environmental impacts of the fishery so that it can meet the MSC standard. This work is steered by FIP participants and FIP stakeholders and includes:
  • Promoting actions needed to assist the IATTC in the adoption of explicit Harvest Control Rules (HCRs) for the yellowfin, skipjack and bigeye tuna stocks, by 2020 at the latest;

  • Promoting improved governance at both the RFMO and flag state level, in particular better compliance with RFMO requirements and measures;

  • Promoting research to better evaluate the impacts of the tuna purse seine fishery on both target stocks and the ecosystem (e.g., impacts of Fishing Aggregating Devices (FADs));

  • Implementing actions to reduce, minimize, and mitigate any potential detrimental effects that the purse seine fishery has on the ecosystem.


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.


The Marine Stewardship Council uses 28 performance indicators to assess the sustainability of fisheries. The chart represents the percentage of indicators that would likely pass, pass with conditions for improvement, or fail upon the fishery’s full assessment.

Eastern Pacific Ocean Tropical Tuna (OPAGAC) FIP Status

Initial Assessment

Implementing Improvements

We use a step-wise process to evaluate the fishery’s performance and identify sustainability issues, and then to implement improvements and report results. Want to dive deeper into this FIP’s progress on each of the MSC performance indicators? Visit FisheryProgress.org.


The fishery has achieved the following impacts through improved practices and management
  • Participation in a biodegradable FAD project, which aims at finding materials and prototypes with a low impact on the ecosystem still suitable to aggregating fish;

  • OPAGAC and TUNACONS signed a MoU to facilitate exchange of information and the development of specific arrangements in projects of mutual interest regarding both FIPs on tropical tuna purse seining;

  • Participation in an Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) pilot project on Electronic Monitoring Systems on tuna purse seiners, funded by the EU;

  • Following the relevance that the release of FAD data has been having in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, providing valuable inputs to stock assessments, a time series of FAD buoy data from 2010 until the present has been voluntarily made available to science bodies to develop alternative abundance indices. The ultimate goals of the project are to enable scientists to correctly assess fishing effort, fishery-independent tuna abundance and impacts on marine ecosystems, and make management recommendations for science-based limits. The agreement was signed with AZTI, and the data will be jointly analysed by the IATTC staff as well;

  • OPAGAC participates in the project HELEA: the objective is to develop and test new tools to release sharks and rays in tuna purse seiners that maximize their survival and are practical to use onboard.

©Kyle LaFerriere / WWF-US

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October 3, 2019

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