Western & Central Pacific Ocean Tuna – OPAGAC

Fishery Improvement Projects

Western & Central Pacific Ocean Tuna - OPAGAC

  • Species Name: Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus).
  • Location/Region: Western and Central Pacific Ocean, WCPFC area of competence, FAO Area 71
  • Gear Type: Purse seine
  • Volume: 50,000 mt

© naturepl.com / Jeff Rotman / WWF
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Western and Central Pacific Ocean Tuna Purse Seine


FIP Stage: 4 (Improvements in Fishing Practices or Fishery Management)
Last Updated: May 2020

In the tropical waters of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, OPAGAC represents 9 purse seine vessels (some of the vessels fishing here are also authorized to fish at the IATTC area), catching approximately 3% 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 Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has made no progress towards a formal HCR for any of the tropical stocks. There is also a need to complete testing of the existing Control Rule using MSE and adopt formal CR. Problems with statistics available for some important fleets (e.g. Indonesia, Philippines) persist in the region.

The active involvement of FIP Stakeholders, including 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.




FIP efforts address governance, fishing practices, and environmental impacts of the fishery so that it can meet the MSC standard. This work is steered by FIP participants and FIP stakeholders and includes:
  • Promoting and assisting improved management of tropical tuna stocks by WCPFC, through adoption of reference points and Harvest Control Rules for those stocks;

  • Promoting improved governance at both the Regional Fishery Management Organization (RFMO) and flag state level, in particular better compliance with RFMO requirements and measures;

  • Promoting research to better evaluate the impacts of the tuna purse seine fishery on both target stocks and the ecosystem (e.g., impacts of FADs);

  • Implementing actions to reduce, minimize, and mitigate any potential detrimental effects that the purse seine fishery has on the ecosystem;

  • Aligning actions with other comprehensive FIPs, as OPAGAC has very limited influence at WCPFC.


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.


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.

Western and Central 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.


The fishery has achieved the following impacts through improved practices and management
  • OPAGAC has 100% observer coverage for all its fleet, either by human observers, electronic monitoring systems (EMS) or both; In order to support MCS and the collection of better scientific data, OPAGAC has signed an agreement with Cook Island to strengthen the Ministry of Marine Resources’ capacity to monitor the activities of foreign purse seiners licensed to operate within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Cook Islands (and, eventually, all licensed local and foreign fishing fleets) through the implementation of an Electronic Monitoring System;

  • OPAGAC participated in research conducted by ISSF to explore ways to mitigate bycatch on purse seine sets;

  • The HELEA project is devoted to developing fauna releasing devices to increase the survival, testing new tools to release sharks and manta rays. These tools are based on the feedback gathered during workshops with skippers. Metallic frame grids to release manta rays and manual tools like handles and specially designed fasteners for sharks have been designed and are being tested on board to measure their efficiency for manipulating these bycatches while minimizing injury to the animals and crew. Moreover, released animals are also tagged to assess post-releasing survival. In addition, the use of the hopper is being evaluated to test the efficiency on shark releases, which has been identified by some skipper as an appropriate device for enhancing releasing rate and survival.

©Kyle LaFerriere / WWF-US

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October 3, 2019

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