The tuna fleet demands priority vaccination of its crew members as essential jobs

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Thursday, 11 February 2021 10:12
SPAIN: The Spanish tuna fleet faces
a 2021 that will continue to be marked by difficulties in developing the relief operations of its crew due to the need to guarantee their health and safety and due to the mobility restrictions imposed by Covid-19. In this sense, the fleet will maintain its focus of prioritizing these aspects contemplated in the social aspect of its certificate of Responsible Fishing Tuna (APR) and with which it supports the global sustainability of its activity.
 
The Spanish fleet, grouped in the Organization of Associated Producers of Large Freezer Tuna Boats (OPAGAC), foresees that, during the first half of this year, it will have to relieve a total of approximately 1,200 crew members, of which about 650 are foreigners and 550 Spanish people. These relays will be carried out as a priority in the base ports of Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Victoria (Seychelles) and Manta (Ecuador) and in accordance with the strict protocol designed by the fleet, in collaboration with the health authorities of the countries in which it operates. as well as those of origin and destination of the fishermen.
 
On the other hand, and due to the essential nature of its activity, the fleet is also requesting the Government and the Autonomous Communities to recognize the crew members as a group with priority access to vaccines against Covid-19, once the vaccination process has been completed. of high-risk groups. The fleet bases this demand on the resolution adopted on December 1 by the UN General Assembly to urge its member states to recognize essential workers for seafarers and other maritime personnel, a decision they had already adopted at the end of 2020. 45 countries, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
 
Biological sustainability
Likewise, the fleet warns of the negative impact of the pandemic on the balance of fishing resources due to the distortions that are already causing the “digital” celebration of the main meetings of the Regional Fisheries Organizations (RFOs), responsible for defining the rules of fisheries management; as well as the relaxation of control measures, including the suspension of observer programs.
 
In fact, the fleet is concerned about the fact that this situation has imposed minimum agreements consistent with the extension to 2021 of last year's resolutions. Difficulties in holding face-to-face meetings in complex negotiations with many countries involved - up to 52, in the case of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) - will have implications on the management measures to be adopted and on the transparency of the decision-making processes to be ensured.
 
For this reason, OPAGAC urges the holding of virtual meetings that allow monitoring the effectiveness of the measures and the review of scientific recommendations, as well as providing transparency to the decision-making process for both contracting parties and observers.
 
Specifically, the most urgent measures to adopt correspond to ICCAT in relation to bigeye tuna and to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (CTOI) in relation to yellowfin.
Finally, OPAGAC recognizes that the limitations to travel around the world make relay operations very difficult, not only for sailors, but also for observers, which may pose a risk of the relaxation of control measures due to the temporary suspension of the obligation to embark observers adopted by some RFOs. The organization points out the impact of this situation on the collection of data necessary for evaluations and scientific advice, as well as for controlling compliance with management measures and working conditions by ships.
 
Therefore, in the opinion of the organization, RFOs should advocate for the improvement and expansion of the use of electronic monitoring systems as a viable alternative to the absence of human observers and to provide security to the market regarding the traceability of fishery products. , in social and environmental matters. In this regard, it should be noted that the Spanish fleet has 100% coverage of physical observers or through electronic means and that many other fleets do not meet the observer coverage requirements, not even the minimums adopted by some organizations (5%) .
According to Julio Morón, managing director of OPAGAC, “the global alert generated by the pandemic is testing the robustness of the sustainability strategy on which we base our activity both in the environmental and social aspects. For this reason, governments and fisheries authorities must collaborate with fishermen to find the balance between guaranteeing the conservation of stocks and the safety and well-being of our crews with the pressure to continue supplying a fundamental food, such as tuna, in a very complex situation in which fishermen are essential personnel ”.
 
Source: FIS
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