At a meeting in London the Spanish tuna fleet shared its APR (Responsibly Fished Tuna) sustainable fishing standard, currently the only such standard in operation anywhere in the world that addresses both social and environmental sustainability.
It is in fact the social side of the Spanish model that has drawn the attention of over 40 North-American NGOs from the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, who also want to develop a standard that encompasses the social side of fishing.
The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, which has entrusted its own project’s development to the American environmental organisation Conservation International (CI), has now had the opportunity to evaluate and compare the Spanish standard’s specifications against theirs, especially in the social area. CI representatives boarded the Ecuadorian-flagged OPAGAC tuna vessel El Charo in Ecuador to evaluate how the Spanish standard is applied in the field, providing them with a real-world contrast between the Spanish model and the American outline known as the Monterey Framework.
The conclusions reached after this field work were shared at last week’s meeting organised by the Seafood Ethics Common Language Group, a working group of UK public body Seafish. Early findings suggest that the Spanish standard, which includes the provisions of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention C188, complies with the American standard’s requirements and will help show Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) how to factor in social sustainability.
In addition to this event, OPAGAC held meetings with Seafish and other organisations that defend best practices in aquaculture and fisheries, which have also shown interest in the standard, especially its social side.
‘In the world fishing environment, our fleet has been the first to champion the social side of sustainability, the side that affects people, along with the environmental side,’ said Julio Morón, managing director of OPAGAC.
‘This dual approach is spreading quite quickly all over the world as the formula for dealing with problems like modern slavery in fishing and poor working conditions in many fleets. For that reason, as we’ve been applying the AENOR-approved APR for two years now, we’re setting a solid example for all those fisheries that decide to commit to a decent working model in commercial fisheries.’
Spanish sustainability model
The AENOR APR (Responsibly Fished Tuna) certification verifies the entire value chain behind tropical tuna caught and processed by OPAGAC member companies and their 48 fishing vessels, as certified under UNE 195006, the responsibly fished tuna standard.
According to OPAGAC, this certification is a fishing industry world first. Among other things, it guarantees compliance with the shipboard working conditions required by ILO Convention 188, ensuring that the tuna that distributors sell and consumers buy is backed by demanding standards on socio-occupational matters and safety at sea that are even more stringent that today’s law requires. In doing this, OPAGAC is pursuing UN Sustainable Development Goals 8 (Decent Work) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).
The OPAGAC fleet is working with the WWF to develop a fishery improvement programme. This programme ensures that the activities of vessels and their crews are subject to the best environmental conservation practices, minimising the impact of purse seine fishing on the marine ecosystem and helping reach SDG 14 (Life Below Water).