OPAGAC and Thai Union co-operate on promoting seagoing workers’ rights
The AENOR standards are serving as a template for Thai Union’s social certification for crews. Image: OPAGAC

OPAGAC and Thai Union co-operate on promoting seagoing workers’ rights

The world’s largest producer of canned tuna in the world, Thai Union, working with Global Seafood Assurances (GSA), is taking requirements for workers’ rights on board set out in the Spanish fleet’s Responsible Tuna Fishing standard (APR) as an example to incorporate into their own social certification systems for fishing activities.

Both organisations have signed a collaboration agreement with AENOR, which currently certifies the 380,000 tonnes of tuna landed annually by the 47 vessels grouped in the Organisation of Producers of Frozen Tuna (OPAGAC).

Through this agreement, Thai Union, Global Seafood Assurances (GSA) and AENOR will exchange knowledge and resources to improve their respective standards and guarantee optimum social and labour conditions for fishing crews. The agreement, which will initially last for one year, is also open to the incorporation of other market players interested in the development or improvement of their own certification strategies.

The AENOR standards are serving as a template for Thai Union’s social certification for crews

‘It is undeniable that the question of workers’ rights in fishing is complex. As well as the difficulty of ensuring that existing laws are respected thousands of kilometres from dry land, many very diverse regulations and interests converge,’ said OPAGAC managing director Julio Morón.

‘Therefore, it is excellent news that more and more fleets make social and labour responsibility a pillar of our activity and, above all, we collaborate to promote our example in the protection of crews, our main asset, as well as the improvement on workers’ conditions in fishing fleets worldwide.’

The Spanish fleet, responsible for 8% of tuna captures worldwide, promotes the fight against human rights violations, including slavery on board, human trafficking, or child exploitation, all of which are practices reported among some fleets, mainly in Asia. For this reason, the AENOR Responsible Tuna Fishing label distinguishes the whole value chain of tropical tuna caught and processed by the companies and 47 vessels grouped in OPAGAC and certified under the UNE 195006 Responsible Tuna Fishing Standard.

This label is a pioneer in the world fishing sector and, among other things, guarantees compliance of the on-board working conditions required by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in its Work in Fishing Convention (2007-188).

Distributors and consumers have the guarantee that the tuna they market and buy is supported by some demanding social and labour standards and also safety at sea standards in line with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). With this, OPAGAC contributes to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) number 8 (Decent Work) and 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production).

In its efforts for internationalisation of the APR standard, OPAGAC has promoted the collaboration of AENOR with Thai Union and GSA, with the aim of promoting social sustainability principles on board the fishing fleet in future certifications under application or development. In this sense OPAGAC also did a comparison study with the Monterey Framework standard in 2019, together with the NGO Conservation International (CI), so that the principles set out in APR could be validated with regard to the standard that this organisation is promoting for its application in all fishery improvement projects (FIP) and set out in www.FisheryProgress.org.


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