Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna – TUNACONS

Fishery Improvement Projects

Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna – TUNACONS

  • Species Name: Skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), Yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) and Bigeye (Thunnus obesus).
  • Location/Region: The EEZs of Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Colombia, United States, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and the international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean
  • Gear Type: Purse seine
  • Volume: 113,568 mt

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Eastern Pacific Ocean Tropical Tuna Purse Seine


MSC Certified: July 7, 2022
Last Updated: July 2022

After working for several years with WWF, the Ecuadorian government, and key partners on a fishery improvement project (FIP), the Ecuadorian purse seine tuna fishery entered the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) full assessment process on October 1, 2020 and received MSC certification on July 7, 2022. 

Ecuador is major world player in the tuna industry. In the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO), Ecuador has the largest purse seine fleet, the main capture and the biggest processing capacity. The industry generates an income to the country of 1.2 billion dollars and employs, directly and indirectly, approximately 50,000 people in the coastal region of Ecuador.

Critical issues challenging the fishery include overcapacity of the fishing fleet and the impact of the use of FADs on tuna populations and other marine species (e.g., sharks).

The active involvement of FIP Stakeholders including WWF Ecuador, the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the National Fisheries Institute (INP), and the Fishery School of the EPO (EPESPO), and FIP Participants drove improvements against the Marine Stewardship Council standard.


© Tunacons


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:
  • Supported the Government of Ecuador to develop a Tuna National Plan of Action that guides national actions for efficient and sustainable management of the fishery;

  • Participating companies have formally adopted and are routinely implementing a protocol for the safe handling and release of bycatch;

  • Conducted a project—in partnership with IATTC—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. By the end of 2020, TUNACONS will have replaced 20% of its traditional FADs with biodegradable, non-entangling FADs;

  • Advised the Government of Ecuador to submit a proposal for a resolution to adopt harvest control rules for tropical tunas, which was formally adopted by the IATTC in 2016;

  • Achieved 100% observer coverage for its vessels, including both large-class vessels, and the small-class vessels that are not obligated by law to do so;

  • Participated in a project to tag manta rays to measure levels of post-release mortality.


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.


An artisanal fisherman holds up a Mahi Mahi fish, Ecuador

© WWF-US / Molly Edmonds

Other efforts to promote a sustainable future for Ecuador’s fisheries

August 7, 2018

Another critically important fishery to Ecuador, the mahi mahi fishery, is one of the country’s most valuable artisanal fisheries and products are primarily exported to the United States. To promote a sustainable future for this critical fishery, Ecuador’s undersecretary of fisheries resources, in collaboration with WWF, launched the Ecuador Mahi Mahi FIP in 2010.