Responsible tuna fishing as a guarantee of sustainable future

OPAGAC receives the first AENOR Responsible Tuna Fishing (APR) certificates in the world

OPAGAC receives the first AENOR Responsible Tuna Fishing (APR) certificates in the world

The Spanish tuna fishing fleet forming part of the OPAGAC Group has received the first AENOR Responsible Tuna Fishing (APR) conformity certificates in the world from the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Ms Isabel García Tejerina. All together, the Minister has delivered seven certificates to the following companies – Conservas Garavilla, Grupo Calvo, Ugavi de Túnidos, Albacora, Compañía Europea de Túnidos, Nicra 7 and Sant Yago – all associates of OPAGAC with a total of 39 vessels.

The certification of these seven member companies OPAGAC is unique throughout the world. The APR standard is intended to form the base for the development of a CEN (European Standardisation Committee) standard, which OPAGAC expects to become a reference so that the European market can demand these requirements for tuna imports.

With this Responsible Tuna Fishing (APR) certification, the ship-owning companies guarantee the distributers and consumers that the tuna they market or consume is endorsed by the best possible standards, including above the current legal requirements. As an example, it is the first of the fisheries sector in the whole world that guarantees on-board compliance of the labour conditions that are required by the OIT in its Agreement 188 of 2007.

The certificate accredits compliance of the requirements established in the Spanish standard UNE 195006, “Responsible tuna fishing. Seine fishing freezer vessels”, which guarantee the best practices in the following areas: fishing activity control, best practices in tuna fishing vessels for responsible fishing, social conditions and health and safety at the workplace and maritime and sanitary monitoring. In this way, the standard is the only one in the world that guarantees compliance of the best practices in the three aspects of socio-economics, control and environmental.

According to Julio Morón, Managing Director of OPAGAC, “with these certifications, the UNE standard, Responsible Tuna Fishing (APR) acquires a new dimension just one year after its publication and converts the Spanish tuna fishing vessels into flagships of sustainability and responsibility, differentiating its catches so that the distribution and the consumers can contribute to this shared commitment through their buying habits”.

According to Manuel Romero, Business Development Manager for AENOR, “the certification concession followed an audit adjusted to the requirements of the standard. The guarantee of an independent, recognised third party contributes confidence in the commitment of the certified companies”.

In order to concede this certificate, AENOR has audited that the tuna fishing vessels comply with various work-related demands included in the standard, such as the contractual conditions for its 1,600 crew members (900 from other countries), in line with the requirements of Agreement 188 of the International Labour Organisation (OIT), which guarantees minimum wages, rest hours, medical care, workplace related risk prevention and social security for all crew members. It also recognises the right for collective bargaining.

In the environmental aspect, the standard requires the use of non-entangling FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) in order to avoid catching unwanted species, together with the training of vessel skippers and captains on the status of fishing resources and the impact of the fishing activity on the marine ecosystem. All this is verified with 100% observer coverage on all the vessels and the use of electronic monitors.
With respect to control measures, the standards establishes the need for the relevant fishing authorisations and health certificates from each country in which the activity is to be carried out; having a Vessel Monitoring System installed (VMS) officially approved and operation 24 x 7; activity register in the Electronic Catch Log, as well as Catch Certificates.

UNE 195006 was developed by the Standardisation Technical Committee CTN 195 Extractive Fishing within the Spanish Standardisation Association, UNE, with the participation and agreement of OPAGAC, other organizations within the sector, companies, MAPAMA, research centres and trade union organisations. For OPAGAC, the APR, standard for sustainable tuna fishing on a worldwide scale means the culmination of a continued improvement process, in which its Tuna Fishing Transparency Initiative (ITT) and the Fishing Improvement Project (FIP) form part, developed in collaboration with the WWF.


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