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

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 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.

© 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:
  • 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 accidentally entangle species such as sharks and sea turtles while drifting. Removing the netting in their design minimizes this risk;

  • 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. Although OPAGAC has limited influence with the WCPFC, 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;

  • 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;

  • Conduced 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.

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

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.

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.

©Kyle LaFerriere / WWF-US

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October 3, 2019

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