After a two-year assessment, the MSC has awarded OPAGAC certification for its fishery for skipjack tuna in the Indian Ocean.
This applies to skipjack caught by the group’s 14 purse seiners in the Indian Ocean and extends to catches from both FAD and free school sets. This achievement is the result of more than a decade of efforts to improve the sustainably of the fishery, including a Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) started in 2016 and completed in 2020.
‘Congratulations to AGAC for this achievement in the Indian Ocean, which is part of wider assessment in the different oceans where the tuna association operates,’ said Laura Rodriguez, MSC programme director for Spain and Portugal.
‘We acknowledge the decade of work that the members of the association have undertake to improve their practices and to meet the MSC Standard. This certification is excellent news for business and consumers looking for sustainable tuna.’
The assessment process began in 2020 with the public announcement and presentation of the preliminary assessment of the fishery by Lloyd’s Register. The process then followed the comprehensive steps of a full assessment, including peer review, site visits, stakeholder submissions, and various interim reports published on the MSC website.
The assessment of the fishery showed that it has shown leadership in sustainable fishing. Since 2012 AGAC has implemented a Code of Good Practice (CGP) to address impacts on non-target species, including the adoption of non-entangling FADs before this requirement became mandatory in some Regional Fisheries Management Organisations.
Compliance with the CGP is verified annually by the independent scientific organisation AZTI. All companies and fishing vessels included in the certification adhere to this binding Code of Good Practice.
‘The Spanish fishing sector, through its tuna fleet, has marked a relevant milestone for the fishing industry worldwide, by demonstrating that an activity with integral sustainability can be developed in social, economic and environmental aspects,’ said OPAGAC managing director Julio Morón.
‘This demonstrates that if we want to approach a future without social and environmental tensions, ensuring a basic and quality food for a growing population, fishermen are a key element to make the right decisions, since we have a fundamental interest in guaranteeing the good health of resources and the marine environment. It can be done.’
OPAGAC has made great advances in reducing the impact of FADs on vulnerable habitats and the ecosystem by launching the first multi-stakeholder FAD-recovery project in the world (FAD-Watch, in the Seychelles), by spearheading the transition to biodegradable and non-entangling FADs and also by monitoring this transition through an observer programme.