Responsible tuna fishing as a guarantee of sustainable future


OPAGAC has a long tradition of collaboration with Spanish scientific institutes and other entities, making available to scientists all information required for stock assessments of tropical tunas in the three oceans, and hosting research trips on board its vessels. All information regarding the activity of the OPAGAC/AGAC fishing fleet is available to scientists (logbooks, FAD diaries, port sampling and observer reports).

The collaboration with the IEO dates from the beginning of fishing activities of our fleet in the ‘60s. Since then the collaboration has supported the work of the IEO on essential research within the RFMOs.

Currently, OPAGAC/AGAC has signed a collaboration agreement with the IEO for volunteer observers to board our fleet as part of the 100% coverage by observers.

the most important research actions with the IEO have been:

In August 2016, OPAGAC and the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) started, with the assistance of FAO, an Electronic Tracking Pilot Project in two of its vessels. This project includes the installation of electronic equipment on ships, tracking units in the SFA, and training components and comparative analysis of the data collected

The project is carried out under the Project ABNJ (Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction) of FAO, and the pilot results will be presented to FAO and other agencies

In recent years (2014 and 2016) ISSF conducted two research trips aboard OPAGAC vessels. The reports from these cruises may be downloaded from ISSF’s website

The objectives of the cruises were:

  • Estimates of catch, species composition, and size distribution of tunas associated with FADs using acoustics
  • The release of sharks from the net while it is in the water.
  • The release of sharks on board ship
  • Study of behaviour of tunas and other species in the net while in the water
  • Comparison of estimates of catch composition by scientists and fishermen

Tuna Strategic Plan

Since 2014 the Tuna Strategic Plan, a joint initiative of the Spanish fleet with the national and regional administration, was designed with the collaboration of the General Secretariat of Fisheries from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the IEO, AZTI, ANABAC and OPAGAC. This Plan aims to unite the efforts being done by all participants and optimize the resources that are being provided by the public administration and the private sector.

Projects carried out in collaboration with the IEO

Project on new designs of FADs to avoid entanglement and the incidental capture of bycatch species, especially sea turtles, as well as exploring the possibilities of acoustic discrimination in the Spanish purse seine fishery in the Indian Ocean.

For ten months, two purse seiners and two auxiliary vessels conducted fishing operations in a variety of new designs of FADs (22 different models) to prevent entanglement of bycatch species, especially sea turtles and did experiments with acoustic gear to establish criteria that could provide information for an eventual reduction in catches of juvenile tropical tuna (yellowfin tuna and especially bigeye tuna).

Analysis of the possible relationship between the setting depth of purse seines and increased catchability of juvenile bigeye

This project was carried out on board vessels in three oceans, over a period of 12 months between 2008 to 2009

Depth sensors were installed on the nets and measurements were made throughout the deployment of the same in each set.

Final results showed that there were no significant relationships between the depth of the net and increased catchability of bigeye, implying absence of bathymetric stratification in tropical species under floating objects.

This project is the result of a joint collaboration between OPAGAC, ANABAC, ISSF, IEO and AZTI.

The objective of this project was to use the entire network of FADs deployed by the fleet, as well as data provided by the buoys deployed in each FAD. They would provide a “snapshot” every certain period of time of the biomass of tropical tunas throughout the entire network of FADs in the ocean. In addition, the acoustic characterization of species obtained in earlier research could also be used to further refine these indices.

“Standardization of tropical tuna catch and effort time series for EU purse seine fleets using FADs in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans and estimation of bycatch and ecosystem Impacts”

This was a joint project with the IEO, IRD, ANABAC, AZTI, EUROTHON and EU. The main objective of CECOFAD was to determine how recent improvements in technologies and fishing methods can be integrated into the estimate of catches of species and their relative abundance.

To conduct research activities needed to improve scientific knowledge in support of the sustainable management of tropical tuna resources and their marine ecosystems, as well as the responsible exploitation and competitiveness of the Spanish fishing fleet fishing these resources.

To monitor the activity of the Spanish and associated tropical tuna fleet, and conduct studies on the biology and population dynamics in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans that contribute to sustainable resource management to meet the requirements of tuna RFMOs in research and in the various scientific or research programs that will be established. Active participation in international fora for tuna management. In addition, the group, through participation in tuna RFMOs, provides advice to both the freezing tuna fleet that forms OPAGAC and ANABAC, as well as to the General Secretary of Fisheries and the European Union.

A team of scientists (IEO-AZTI), leader in research of tropical tunas works in coordination, efficiently and transparently with active participation and presence in the Scientific Committees of the four Regional Fisheries Management Organisations [ICCAT, IOTC, WCPFC and IATTC], to improve scientific knowledge and provide scientific management advice aimed at ensuring the sustainability of tuna resources and activity of the Spanish fleet in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.


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