Responsible tuna fishing as a guarantee of sustainable future

Over 40 North-American NGOs interested in the social dimension of the responsible fishing standard of the Spanish tuna fleet

Over 40 North-American NGOs interested in the social dimension of the responsible fishing standard of the Spanish tuna fleet

Last Tuesday in London the Spanish tuna fleet shared its APR sustainable fishing standard (“APR” stands for “Responsibly Fished Tuna” in Spanish), 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 our standard’s specifications with theirs, especially in the social area. CI representatives boarded the OPAGAC ship El Charo, flying the Ecuadoran flag, in Ecuador to evaluate how the Spanish standard is applied in the field. Thus they got 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 Tuesday’s meeting organised by the Seafood Ethics Common Language Group, a working group of the British 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 encounter, OPAGAC has meet with Seafish and other organisations that defend best practices in the area of aquiculture and extractive fishing, inasmuch as they too have shown interest in our fleet’s standard, especially its social side.

According to Julio Morón, managing director of OPAGAC, “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. 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”, Morón adds, “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 extractive fishing”.

 The Spanish fleet’s sustainability model

The AENOR Conform “Responsibly Fished Tuna” seal vouches for the entire value chain behind tropical tuna caught and processed by the companies and the 48 ships in OPAGAC, as certified under UNE 195006, the responsibly fished tuna standard. This seal is a world fishing industry 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 also working with the WWF to develop a fishery improvement programme. This programme ensures that the activities of ships and their crews are subject to the best environmental conservation practices, minimising the impact of seine fishing on the marine ecosystem and helping reach SDG 14 (Life Below Water).


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