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The first canned tuna under the AENOR Conform RFT label is now available to Spanish consumers

Canning companies Garavilla, which produces the Isabel brand, and Sálica, which has the Campos brand, will be the first to distribute products carrying the AENOR Conform RFT label.

This month Spanish consumers will be able to buy the first cans of tuna bearing the AENOR Conform Responsibly Fished Tuna seal off Spanish distributors’ shelves, right on schedule according to the forecasts made last October by the Spanish tuna fleet organisation OPAGAC.

Garavilla, the canning company behind the Isabel brand, and Sálica, the canning company which owns the Campos brand, will be the first to offer products with the new seal. Consumers can rely on the seal to guarantee that products come from a sustainable, socially responsible source.

The certified cans will gradually be distributed over the entire country and will contain some of Spain’s most popular foods, such as tuna in vegetable oil (Isabel) and light tuna in extra virgin olive oil (Isabel and Campos). The first lot Isabel is slated to distribute will contain 500,000 cans. In addition, both companies anticipate applying the new certificate to their entire product range in the not-too-distant future.

Government Backing

The new certificate is the outcome of a project begun in 2016 by Spanish tuna operators that are members of OPAGAC. The project’s now-completed objective is to offer end consumers a choice – they can buy products that are not only environmentally and biologically sustainable, but also produced under responsible shipboard working conditions, as opposed to illegally fished products.

The magnitude of the project, the only one of its kind in the world, has received the support of the Spanish government right from the start. The official presentation of its completion took place the last 6th June and was presided over by Alicia Villauriz, Secretary-General for Fisheries.

The new certificate is the result of the merger of two of the tuna fleet’s voluntary initiatives, its FIP Fisheries Improvement Project and its push to have all OPAGAC/AGAC vessels certified by AENOR as compliant with the UNE standard for RFT (Responsibly Fished Tuna) by July 2017.

After the fleet was certified, AENOR began certifying canned tuna processing and distribution firms’ chain of custody in March of this year, thus closing the project circle by adding certification of tuna-canning activities on land to certification of tuna-fishing activities at sea (under UNE 195006) and covering the process end to end, from the ocean to the table. AENOR Conform RFT certification is entirely voluntary and is open to any tuna vessel or canning company in the world.

The AENOR Conform RFT logo only goes on cans containing tuna fished by vessels certified under UNE 195006 (the Responsibly Fished Tuna Standard) and belonging to a Comprehensive FIP (Fishery Improvement Programme). The FIP (run in co-operation with the World Wildlife Fund) ensures that vessels and their crews use the best practices in environmental conservation, in regard to both tropical tuna stocks and the environment of the fishing zones where our fleet operates.

The UNE Responsibly Fished Tuna Standard (certified by AENOR) is a pioneer in itself. This is the first standard the fishing industry has seen that guarantees, among other things, compliance with the shipboard working conditions established by the International Labour Organisation in ILO Convention 188. This certificate guarantees that the fish which distributors are marketing and consumers are eating has been caught by companies and vessels belonging to OPAGAC, and moreover it is backed by stringent social, labour and maritime safety standards considerably in excess of what the law currently requires.

With this initiative OPAGAC, which is the first Spanish fleet to join the United Nations Global Compact, is helping reach the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 by having a direct impact on the goals of decent work, responsible consumption, care for life below water, peace, justice and solid institutions, and partnership for the goals.

OPAGAC is an association of nine freezer tuna purse seine companies. Its fleet, consisting of 47 tuna vessels, catches 400,000 tonnes a year, 8% of the world catch, and fishes in the three main oceans in the world – Atlantic, Indian and Pacific – under the jurisdiction of the four main regional fisheries management organisations for this type of fishing.