Spanish tuna fleet kick-starts full MSC process
‘This is the largest tuna fleet in the world to apply for MSC certification on this scale which shows OPAGAC’s commitment to sustainable practice and fisheries management,’ said Lloyd’s Register Fisheries Manager Polly Burns. Image: OPAGAC

Spanish tuna fleet kick-starts full MSC process

The Spanish tuna fleet has begun the process to assess all its fisheries to the MSC Standard for sustainable fishing, including operations in the the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans, and for its three target species of yellowfin, skipjack and bigeye tuna. The announcement was made at the Seafood Expo Global exhibition Brussels. Lloyd’s Register will assess the fisheries.

The objective of the fleet under the OPAGAC grouping, is to obtain the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. Independent auditors from Lloyd’s Register will evaluate its fishing activities according to science-based standards set by the MSC. If the fishery is found to meet the MSC’s requirements, it will achieve MSC certification for a large part of its tropical tuna catches, which amount to 380,000 tons per year, equivalent to 8% of captures worldwide.
‘For many years, we fishermen have been clear that a fishery that is not sustainable has no future and, therefore, we want to meet the objective of our FIP and the commitment to sustainable and responsible fishing,’ said OPAGAC managing director Julio Morón.
OPAGAC is using the services of accredited conformity assessment body (CAB) Lloyd’s Register which will evaluate the fisheries as per the three principles of the MSC environmental standard. This requires that the seafood catch comes from stocks in good condition, with minimal environmental impact and with exhaustive controls. Lloyd’s Registers’ initial assessment of the fishery will be available for public comment towards the end of the summer.
This assessment is the result of the Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) that OPAGAC has been developing in collaboration with the WWF since 2016, the objective of which is to achieve MSC certification for the 12 stocks their ships fish. It is was at the 2017 international Our Ocean conference the Spanish fleet undertook to obtain MSC certificate for all its captures by 2021.
Following a full evaluation and stakeholder consultation, if the fishery is found to meet the MSC Standard, OPAGAC will be the holder of the certificate, the requirements of which must be complied with by the associated ship operating companies. This places OPAGAC as guarantor that its members meet the MSC requirements to obtain and maintain future certification.
‘The main theme of today’s Seafood Futures Forum, organised by the MSC at Seafood Expo Global, is accelerating the change to end overfishing,’ commented MSC Director for Spain and Portugal Laura Rodríguez Zugasti, speaking following the announcement.
‘OPAGAC, through the important progress in the Fishery Improvement Projects and now with the decision to enter its fisheries in three oceans for assessment, is contributing to accelerating change in the global tuna fishing sector. It is a great satisfaction for the MSC office in Spain that the Spanish tuna fishing fleet assumes leadership on the global action for sustainable fishing.’
‘This is the largest tuna fleet in the world to apply for MSC certification on this scale which shows OPAGAC’s commitment to sustainable practice and fisheries management,’ said Polly Burns, Fisheries Manager at Lloyd’s Register.
‘We’re delighted to be working alongside them to deliver the assessment. As an independent assessment body assessing against the MSC standard. The process will be as rigorous and demanding as ever, so if certified, it will be a huge accomplishment for OPAGAC and one of which they can be very proud.’
Lloyd’s Register specialist Fisheries and Aquaculture team has a strong track record in delivering MSC assessments and other seafood assurance services, assessing over 100 seafood species globally. It operates in 40 countries across six continents, working across the supply chain from fisheries to retailers.
Since 2017, all OPAGAC catches have the AENOR Tuna from Responsible Fishing certificate (APR in Spanish). This certificate is pioneer in the global fishing sector as it is the only one that guarantees best practices in the three aspects of socioeconomic, environmental and control factors. APR accredits control of fishing, good practice on board ships regarding responsible fishing, compliance with work safety and social conditions in accordance with ILO Convention 188 and maritime and health control.