Indian Ocean Tuna – OPAGAC

Fishery Improvement Projects

Indian Ocean Tuna - OPAGAC

  • Species Name: Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus).
  • Location/Region: Indian Ocean, IOTC area of competence, FAO Areas 51 and 57
  • Gear Type: Purse seine
  • Volume: 80,000 mt

© Gorka Ocio
Home | Fisheries | Transitioning Fisheries | Indian Ocean Tuna – OPAGAC

Indian Ocean Tuna Purse Seine

OPAGAC

Entered MSC Full 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 Indian Ocean, OPAGAC represents 15 purse seine vessels, catching approximately 14% 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 Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) have not been effective to maintain the catches of tropical tuna stocks at the agreed levels. As an example, there is only one harvest control rule in place for skipjack, while yellowfin tuna is currently overfished and overfishing is occurring, despite the rebuilding plan adopted by the Commission. There are also problems with data available for some important fleets (e.g. Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka).

The active involvement of FIP Stakeholders, including Indian Ocean tuna – purse seine (SIOTI), 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.

© OPAGAC

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:
  • Supported an electronic monitoring (EM) pilot program on purse seine vessels with the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). The results of the pilot were instrumental to assist the IOTC in preparing minimum standards for EM:

  • In collaboration with WWF, this FIP advocated for the adoption of a new measure at the IOTC for the conservation of mobulid rays, a species at risk for being bycatch (Resolution 19/03);

  • 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 contributed to the 2019 stock assessment for the species;

  • 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:

  • Presented a study that examined how full seasonal closures may help the purse seine fishery achieve the levels of catch reduction sought by the IOTC. The estimates in the study provide managers with the ability to predict catches, thereby encouraging a more precautionary approach in attaining catch targets.

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.

Indian Ocean Tropical Tuna (SIOTI) 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


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.

READ MORE ON OUR BLOG