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“Albacora And OPAGAC Should Come Clean On IUU Incidents”

Greenpeace is demanding that tuna vessel owner Albacora S.A. and its fishing association OPAGAC come clean on IUU incidents and settlements that they have been involved in. The environmental group has made a string of allegations towards the company and believes that all IUU violations should be reported by RFMOs to ensure transparency in the tuna industry.

A Greenpeace blog post written by Szabina Mozes has stressed the importance of canned tuna brands and retailers to commit not to source tuna from companies that have vessels appearing on either Greenpeace or regional fishing commission blacklists.

The blog points to the listing of the Albacora S.A. owned tuna seiner, Albacora Uno, on the Greenpeace blacklist. It states that Greenpeace believes the vessel should have also been listed on the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s (WCPFC) IUU list, despite the fact that fines of USD 5 million had already been paid.

Albacora Uno was charged in 2010 with illegally deploying 67 FADs in US Pacific waters, and in 2011 was identified to have discarded a ton of skipjack against the regulations of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Most recently the vessel and some of its crew have been fined USD 1 million by the Nauru District for six counts of illegal fishing within Nauru’s EEZ. A financial settlement meant that Albacora Uno avoided RFMO blacklisting procedures.

Mozes also refers to five more Albacora S.A. owned vessels that were caught for fishing tuna without licenses in the Liberian EEZ: Albacora Quince, Neuva, Diez, Seis and Caribe. Its fishing association OPAGAC arranged for the matter to be settled out of court with a payment of USD 250,000. The vessels avoided being blacklisted by the RFMO, ICCAT.

Despite Greenpeace stating that all six of the vessels are owned by Albacora S.A., according to the Vessel Register of ICCAT, only Albacora Uno and Quince are listed with its owner details. Both Diez and Caribe are listed as being owned by Integral Fishing Services; Cuatro comes under Compania Europea de Tunidos; Nueve by the Overseas Tuna Company NV and Seis has no owner details listed in its registration on the list.

Albacora Uno, along with four of the other vessels subject to allegations all appear on the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) Pro-Active Vessel Register (PVR). All of the listed vessels are “green ticked” as “in compliance” to no illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and with having a “commitment to specific best practices in sustainable tuna fishing.”

ISSF states: “ISSF supports the IUU Vessel Lists of the tuna RFMOs and all PVR applicant vessels are checked against these lists. If a vessel is included on any tuna RFMO IUU list, it will be noted with a red X in the appropriate column on the PVR.”

Albacora S.A. is also listed by Earth Island Institute (EII) as a “Dolphin-Safe” tuna fishing company. In 2009, EII added to its dolphin safe policy that listed companies will not purchase or process any tuna caught by vessels that are listed by the international tuna commissions as IUU vessels. A search on the EII website found no reference to the reporting of IUU violations by Albacora vessels, and no mention of the company’s operations in its “Consumer Alerts.” 

Greenpeace is urging for this to change and for vessels involved in illegal fishing activities to be placed on RFMO blacklists that will reveal their unlawful tuna fishing operations. Mozes stresses that increased transparency in the industry will enable responsible traders to avoid getting drawn into the business of companies operating illegally. 

He says: “It seems like when you’re a big fish in the tuna industry you can break whatever rules you don’t like - if your illegal activities are ever discovered – flash some cash to make all the fuss go away.”