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Spanish tuna vessel. (Photo: Anfaco-Cecopesca)

Spanish tuna fleet to invest EUR 3 million in fishery improvement project

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Thursday, March 08, 2018, 22:00 (GMT + 9)

The Spanish tuna fleet will invest EUR 3 million this year in the Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP), which is developed jointly with the WWF. With this figure, the global investment in this FIP, which was launched in 2017, already amounts to EUR 12 million. The objective pursued by the fleet is to achieve the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certification for all of its catches, in 2021.

This year, the fleet grouped in OPAGAC (Organization of Associated Producers of Large Freezer Tuna Ships) and the WWF will continue to promote the FIP in each of its three major principles. Thus, in relation to the sustainability of the stocks, they will encourage the Regional Fisheries Organizations (RFOs), in charge of managing the tropical tuna fishery in the waters where the Spanish fleet operates, to adopt Catch Control Standards to promote sustainable management of stocks in the long term. In addition, the training of the crews of the fleet will be encouraged through four new Best Practices workshops held in collaboration with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), at least one of them in the Basque Country and another one in Galicia .

Regarding the principle of environmental impact, the tuna fleet will continue to evaluate the effects of the Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs), in collaboration with the RFOs and scientific institutions. In this regard, OPAGAC will evaluate the results of its pilot FAD collection in Seychelles (FAD-Watch) program and will expand its participation in projects that evaluate the effectiveness of biodegradable FADs, such as the one carried out by the European Union, with the collaboration of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and the technological institute AZTI, in which the fleet has invested more than EUR 360,000.

Regarding the control activities included in the FIP, the objectives will focus on compliance with the reporting obligations to the RFOs, for which OPAGAC will promote its model, which includes the adoption of regional observer programs. It should be remembered that 100 per cent of the OPAGAC fleet is equipped, with the technological collaboration of the Spanish company Satlink, with Satellite Monitoring Systems (VMS or Vessel Monitoring System) and with human/electronic observers that record all fishing activities performed on the 47 ships of the fleet.

According to Julio Morón, managing director of OPAGAC, "our FIP is the first initiative in the world that comprehensively addresses a sustainable management of tuna. The fact that we can market our fishing products as a FIP product means that consumers can opt for a food made from raw materials that come from a fleet that is actively working for its sustainability. During this second year of the project, we will continue advancing with our mind set on this key objective".

First year of the FIP: above expectations

After its first year of life, the FIP of OPAGAC and WWF has become the initiative of this type within the most complete tropical tuna fishing in the world, by including the three target species of this listed fishery (skipjack tuna or SKJ). , yellowfin tuna (YFT) and bigeye (bigeye tuna or BET) - in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.

All the advances of the FIP during its first year of life have been above expectations. In fact, the project has used the MSC scales to measure its effectiveness and all the scores obtained exceed them in the four RFOs (IATTC, WCPFC, IOTC and ICCAT), where the 47 ships of the Opagac fleet operate.

This evaluation has been carried out by the independent consultant Jo Gascoigne based on the 89 improvement objectives established for the year 2017, which indicates that the progress of this FIP is better than expected in all the oceans and for the three species. The advances in sustainability of the OPAGAC fleet are joined by the progress of all tuna RFMOs in stock assessment and the adoption of processes to establish catch control standards for tropical tuna stocks, while some of its members have improved in compliance with management measures.

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Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  ANFACO-CECOPESCA - Asociacion Nacional de Fabricantes de Conservas de Pescados y Mariscos-
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