On August 3rd 2018, the Tuna Conservation Group (TUNACONS) and the Producers’ Organization of Large Tuna Fishing Freezer Vessels (OPAGAC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate exchange of information and the development of specific arrangements in projects of mutual interest regarding both Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs ) on tropical tuna purse seining.
This collaboration frames the priority activities of mutual interest, in order to advance the sustainability agenda in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). It is extremely important to align the actions between comprehensive FIPs, since collaborative actions drive success towards sustainability.
OPAGAC and TUNACONS share a common interest in advancing the sustainability agenda for their fisheries to meet the objectives of their FIPs, through the implementation of joint actions to address the shortcomings identified for their fisheries on the three principles of their FIPs. As such, the following have been highlighted in the MoU:
- Regional management: through actions intended to assist the IATTC in the adoption of explicit Harvest Control Rules (HCRs) for the yellowfin, skipjack and bigeye tuna stocks, by 2020 at the latest;
- Bycatch and ecosystems: through the implementation of joint research programs or initiatives to assist in the evaluation of habitat and bycatch impacts by the fishery and/or implementation of procedures to mitigate or eliminate those potential impacts, particularly the ones caused by Fishery Aggregation Devices (FADs) on the marine ecosystems;
- Compliance monitoring: aimed at improving compliance with IATTC measures through promotion of increased transparency, advice and capacity building in the evaluation of the several fleets’ performance regarding compliance with IATTC Resolutions;
- Target stocks: promote technical cooperation actions related to IATTC and other conservation support organizations on issues related to the reduction on any potential adverse impacts that purse seiners might have on tropical tuna populations, where necessary;
- Harmonization: IATTC to continue working with other tuna-RFMOs, especially WCPFC, in a process of harmonization of measures and procedures on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS), data collection, management and dissemination, and assessment and management of stocks. This work should be conducted under an agreed work plan among both RFMOs.
Currently, a pilot project on degradable FADs, co-financed by the EU and the ship owners linked to each FIP, is being developed in coordination with the IATTC staff, and is expected to start later this year.
ABOUT OPAGAC AND TUNACONS
OPAGAC represents the interests of 9 fishing companies. Its fleet is made up of 48 tuna purse seiners, which target tropical tunas worldwide, with recent catches representing up to 380,000 tonnes per year (approximately 8% of the global catches of tropical tunas). The OPAGAC fleet operates within the areas of competence of four tuna-Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (tRFMOs), ICCAT, IOTC, IATTC and WCPFC, in full respect of Regional, Flag State and Coastal State management measures and requirements. In the EPO, OPAGAC represents the interest of companies based in Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama and Spain, 12 purse seiners, and catches of tropical tunas making 9% (around 60,000 tonnes) of the total catches in the IATTC area.
TUNACONS is the alliance of 5 tuna purse seining companies operating in the Eastern Pacific Ocean: NIRSA, JARDRAN, SERVIGROUP, EUROFISH and TRI MARINE make up the fleet, with a total of 45 fishing vessels producing around 114,000 metric tons per year. Under the jurisdiction of the IATTC, TUNACONS represents 17% of the catches in this fishing area.
The set of the two fleets assigned to the FIPs represent more than 26% of the total tropical tuna catches of the EPO – about 174,000 metric tons per year. Both groups hope that the FIPs actions will help improve the status of tropical tuna stocks in the EPO through improved management under the IATTC.