Responsible tuna fishing as a guarantee of sustainable future

The Spanish seal that certifies responsible tuna sourcing advances and reaches U.S. and Italian supermarkets

The Spanish seal that certifies responsible tuna sourcing advances and reaches U.S. and Italian supermarkets

Consumers in the U.S. and Italy can now find tuna on their supermarket aisles that bears the AENOR Tuna from Responsible Fishing (or APR Standard) seal promoted by OPAGAC, the organisation that represents the Spanish tuna fleet, now that the Bolton Food, Salica and Atunlo canning companies have certified their production lines and started marketing APR products in these two countries under the Isabel, Campos and Atunlo brand names, respectively. In addition, in Spain, the Spanish firm La Piara, which has just been certified, will begin this year to market only Tuna from Responsible Fishing in those of its fish pâtés that contain tuna.

The Spanish tuna fleet has thus consolidated its place as an international market pacesetter in guaranteeing that tropical tuna is fished under conditions that are both environmentally and socially responsible and sustainable. In fact, our fleet now has a total of 65 certified vessels after the recent addition of three ships belonging to the Basque shipowner Txopituna in the Eastern Pacific. These 65 ships already account for over 10% of the world’s tropical tuna catch. The fleet is truly international, since its component ships fly the flags of eight countries: Spain, Ecuador, Guatemala, the Seychelles, Belize, Curaçao, El Salvador and Panama.

Also, in connection with processing and distribution chain certification, the three canning companies mentioned above procure their supplies from 15 companies that specialise in providing tuna from Spain, Portugal, Ecuador, Colombia, and Morocco; their activity is also Tuna from Responsible Fishing-certified.

In 2019 Spanish consumers became the first shoppers in the world who could buy tins of tuna bearing the Tuna from Responsible Fishing seal. This certification is voluntary, and it is the result of an initiative by the Spanish tuna fleet, represented by the Organisation of Associated Producers of Large Tuna Freezers (OPAGAC).

The seal guarantees to distributors and consumers alike that the tuna they market or consume was caught in accordance with the finest environmental, social and labour standards, far above the legal requirements. At the fishing stage in particular, the certificate ensures control of the activity, good practices on board ship for responsible fishing, maritime and health control and compliance with social and occupational safety conditions in accordance with ILO Convention 188.

According to Julio Morón, managing director of OPAGAC, “We consumers are increasingly willing to support buying products that we can be sure are sustainable and responsible, but now the last hurdle we’re facing is for big distribution to commit to including these values in its supply chain. This means,” Morón adds, “the European Union and the Member States have got to set a standard of comprehensive sustainability so that all fleets play by the same rules, and they’ve got to shut the European market’s doors to fishery products caught by the fleets of countries that aren’t committed to upholding that standard.”


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