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

OPAGAC

Entered MSC Assessment: September 2020
FIP Stage: 5 (Improvements on the Water)
Last Updated: November 2020

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. The full assessment process will take approximately one year.

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

© Pep Nogués, ICS


GOALS ACHIEVED

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 move into MSC full assessment, 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.

FIP PARTICIPANTS

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.
  • OPAGAC

PROGRESS AND ACTIVITY

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.

©Kyle LaFerriere / WWF-US


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October 3, 2019

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