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
Home | Fisheries | Transitioning Fisheries | Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna – OPAGAC

Eastern Pacific 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 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 vessels in this fishery operate under the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC).

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), drove improvements against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard.

© Pep Nogués, ICS


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 will enable scientists to assess fishing effort, species abundance, and fishing impacts on the marine ecosystem, which therefore leads to more informed management decisions;

  • Conducted trials to compare fishery data collected by electronic monitoring (EM) and human observers. The findings reveal that data collection on the total catch of tuna was just as reliable between EM systems and human observers. Additionally, there was high data congruence for shark interactions, the main bycatch species in FAD fisheries. These results have important implications as EM is a cost-effective and scalable option, whereas human observers are susceptible to human error and/or coercion;

  • Participated in a trial project to test materials and design prototypes for non-entangling, biodegradable FADs (bioFADs). As abandoned FADs can accumulate at sea, finding alternative, biodegradable materials can reduce ocean pollution. Additionally, lost and discarded FADs—known as ghost gear—can accidently entangle species such as sharks and sea turtles while drifting. Removing the netting in their design minimizes this risk;

  • Participated in a project to develop and test new tools and methods to release sharks and rays that both maximize the survival of the species and ensure the safety of the crew.


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? FisheryProgress.org 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.