Spanish tuna fleet in full MSC assessmentThe Spanish tropical tuna fishery is entering the full MSC assessment process. Photo: OPAGAC

Spanish tuna association AGAC is entering the full MSC assessment process, requesting its tropical tuna catch be independently assessed against the Marine Stewardship Council Fishery Standard.

The Association of Large Tuna Freezers purse seiner fleet accounts for up to 8% of world catches of yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack tuna from the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It has been in a fisheries improvement project for five years, before the decision was taken to enter the MSC’s sustainability assessment against the core principles of healthy stocks, impact on the ecosystem and management practices.

“The process towards the best environmental certification started ten years ago, upon signature of a Decalogue of Good Practice by the shipowners of AGAC. In 2012, the Decalogue was extended into a Code of Good Practice, the foundation stone of the Fishery Improvement Project that AGAC initiated in 2016 with the assistance of the WWF,” said AGAC managing director Julio Morón.

“The process of assessment to the MSC standard may take more than a year and we are aware that there is yet work to be done. We believe that reaching this far demonstrates the commitment of the fishers and shipowners of AGAC towards preservation of the marine environment to which depend our livelihoods and employment. We are fully committed to do whatever is on our hands to preserve our fishing activity with the least environmental impact possible and protecting the health of the tropical tuna stocks.”

The assessment is being carried out for the Association of Large Tuna Freezers by independent assessor Lloyds Register in four distinct geographic areas corresponding to the regional fishing management organisations (RFMOs), ICCAT, IATTC, WCPFC and IOTC.

Twelve different units of assessment that are defined by species, stock and the fishing area are being assessed. Any units that pass the assessment process and are recommended for certification will be eligible to be licensed to use the MSC’s blue fish ecolabel.

The association AGAC also includes OPAGAC, the Organisation of Associated Producers of Large Tuna Freezers. There are 48 freezing tuna vessels linked to the association that fish tuna in all the oceans where tropical tuna can be found.

“The tuna association AGAC is the first to ask for its entire global catch across three oceans to be assessed simultaneously to the MSC’s sustainability standard. The assessment process will provide invaluable information which we have not had before on the sustainability levels of each of the tropical tuna species in each ocean,” commented MSC’s director in Spain and Portugal Laura Rodriguez.

“We are very pleased about AGAC’s decision to steadily improve its fishing practices over the years, and for now committing to a rigorous assessment process for environmental sustainability.”

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