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




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 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.


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

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October 3, 2019

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