Responsible tuna fishing as a guarantee of sustainable future

The responsible tuna fishing standard of the Spanish fleet, a model for Thai Union and GSA for its protection of workers rights

The responsible tuna fishing standard of the Spanish fleet, a model for Thai Union and GSA for its protection of workers rights

The largest producer of tinned tuna in the world, Thai Union, and Global Seafood Assurances (GSA)[1] will take the treatment of workers’ rights on board set out in the Responsible Tuna Fishing standard (APR) of the Spanish tuna fishing fleet as an example to incorporate them in their social certification systems for fishing activities. For this purpose, both organisations have signed a collaboration agreement with AENOR, which currently certifies the 380,000 tonnes of tuna captured by the 47 vessels grouped in the Organisation of Producers of Frozen Tuna (OPAGAC).

Through this agreement, Thai Union, Global Seafood Assurances (GSA) and AENOR will exchange knowledge and resources to improve their respective standards and thus guarantee optimum social and labour conditions for fishing fleet crews. The agreement, which will initially last for one year, is also open to the incorporation of other market actors interested in the development or improvement of their own certification strategies.

The Spanish fleet, responsible for 8% of tuna captures worldwide, promotes the fight against human rights violations: slavery on board, human trafficking, or child exploitation; practices reported onboard some fleets, mainly Asian ones. For this reason, the AENOR Responsible Tuna Fishing seal distinguishes the whole value chain of tropical tuna captured and processed by the companies and 47 vessels grouped in OPAGAC and certified under the UNE 195006 Responsible Tuna Fishing Standard.

This seal is pioneer in the world fishing sector and, among other things, guarantees compliance of the on-board working conditions required by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in its Work in Fishing Convention (2007-188). In this way, distributors and consumers have the guarantee that the tuna they market and buy is supported by some demanding social and labour standards and also safety at sea standards in line with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). With this, OPAGAC contributes to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) number 8 (Decent Work) and 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production).

In its efforts for internationalisation of the APR standard, Opagac has promoted the collaboration of AENOR with Thai Union and GSA, with the aim of promoting social sustainability principles on board the fishing fleet in future certifications under application or development. In this sense OPAGAC also did a comparison study with the Monterey Framework standard in 2019, together with the NGO Conservation International (CI), so that the principles set out in APR could be validated with regard to the standard that this organisation is promoting for its application in all fishery improvement projects (FIP) and set out in

According to Julio Morón, Managing Director of OPAGAC, “it is undeniable that the question of workers’ rights in fishing is complex. As well as the difficulty of ensuring that existing laws are respected thousands of kilometres from dry land, many very diverse regulations and interests converge. Therefore, it is excellent news that more and more fleets make social and labour responsibility a pillar of our activity and, above all, we collaborate to promote our example in the protection of crews, our main asset, as well as the improvement on workers’ conditions in fishing fleets worldwide”.

[1] Not-for-profit entity focused on guaranteeing the traceability of the whole value chain for fishing and fish products in accordance with social responsibility and sustainability.


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