AUSTRALIA - Western Australia’s Exmouth Gulf and Shark Bay prawns are the first fisheries under the West Australian Government’s A$14.5million initiative to go under full assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable fisheries.
“These two fisheries have tipped the scales of wild-capture prawns in Australia, now more than half the total harvest of wild prawns in Australia are part of the MSC certification program,” said MSC Fisheries Manager, Matt Watson.
Minister for Agriculture and Food; Fisheries, Ken Baston sees the value of third-party certification for fisheries.
“Department of Fisheries research shows that WA prawn fisheries operate sustainably and the independent certification against the MSC standard will give us the chance to tell the world not only how good the prawns from Exmouth and Shark Bay taste, but how well these wild-catch prawn stocks are being managed,” Mr Baston said.
Milestone for $14.million investment in fisheries
Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) chairman Arno Verboon said this announcement marked an important milestone in the sustainable management of the State’s two biggest prawn fisheries – collectively worth more than A$20million a year.
“WAFIC is working very hard with its members organisations and the State Government to maintain the economic viability of the commercial fishing sector while also ensuring that the associated environmental and sustainability issues are addressed responsibly,” Mr Verboon said.
“The Shark Bay Prawn Fishery, which operates in a world heritage precinct, has always worked in partnership with the Department of Fisheries to ensure the sustainability of our fishery. MSC certification is not a simple green-wash tick, it’s a very rigorous, independent, scientific process and will assist us in telling the great story of the Shark Bay Wild prawn,” said CEO of Shark Bay Prawns, Phil Bruce.
“We take great pride that our seafood is caught sustainably in the best managed fisheries in the world, and we want people to know and understand this. The MSC is a great way to not just communicate this to our customers and community, but importantly to also validate the message as well,” said Alex Kailis, Director of MG Kailis.
There are more than 300 fisheries worldwide now engaged in the MSC program and over 22,000 products bearing the MSC blue ecolabel.
“Demand for third-party verified sustainably caught seafood is growing and leading retailers and brands are responding. We have over 200 MSC labelled products on supermarket shelves in Australia,” said Mr Watson.
To gain MSC certification, fisheries must undergo an independent audit to assess whether they reach the MSC’s international standard for a sustainable fishery which is based on three key principles; viability of target stock, impact on the marine ecosystem and management of the fishery.
TheFishSite News Desk