SPAIN : The Secretary General of Fisheries, Alicia Villauriz, met with the owners of high-altitude freezer tuna vessels associated with the Organization of Associated Producers of Large Freezer Tuna (OPAGAC). This association has six associated companies, with a fleet present in all the oceans and a total catch that represents around 6 percent of the world catches of tropical tunas.
At the meeting the situation of the tropical tuna fisheries was analyzed, regulated by the competent regional fisheries organizations. These fisheries have been under increasing pressure for several years as a result of increased catches, mostly by non-EU vessels.
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) have established in recent years limits of increasingly restrictive catches for bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna stocks, respectively. The General Secretariat of Fisheries discussed with the representatives of OPAGAC the future options for regulation that are being debated within these organizations, noting the shipowners´concerns.
Likewise, OPAGAC representatives highlighted the organization´s voluntary efforts to improve its fisheries sustainability. At present, all Spanish freezer tuna vessels have implemented a code of good practices verified by an independent scientific institute. These practices have improved the selectivity of purse-seine fishing, while at the same time minimizing the impact of this fishery on the marine ecosystem.
OPAGAC´s next step has been the development of a Fisheries Improvement Plan (known by its acronym in English FIP), currently in an advanced phase of implementation.
For its part, the Secretary General of Fisheries has planned, this Thursday, a meeting with the representatives of the National Association of Shipowners of Freezer Tuna Ships (ANABAC) to continue this analysis with the sector dedicated to the tropical tuna fishery.