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Australian Small Pelagic Fishery Goes Under the Spotlight

26 September 2014

AUSTRALIA - Australia’s small pelagic fishery is going under the microscope to be measured against the world’s most robust and credible standard for sustainable fishing, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fisheries standard.

The transparent and independent assessment process will examine the fishery’s impact on fish populations and the marine ecosystem. It will also study the fishery’s management processes to ensure that it is taking all steps necessary to protect the ocean environment for future generations.

MSC Country Manager for Australia, Patrick Caleo said the assessment against MSC certification is one of the hardest in the world to attain.

“An MSC assessment is science and evidence based. It is carried out by an independent assessment team and involves a high degree transparency and stakeholder involvement. All wild-capture fisheries are welcome to put themselves under the spotlight and scrutiny of this assessment process. Only well managed fisheries which ensure the long-term sustainability of fish stocks and keep ecosystems healthy achieve MSC certification,” said Mr Caleo.

SCS Global to undertake the assessment

Fishing company, Seafish Tasmania which operates in the small pelagic fishery under the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) targets jack mackerel, redbait and blue mackerel. It has contracted third-party independent auditors, SCS Global to undertake the 12 to 18 month assessment. SCS Global’s team of accredited scientists will assess the fishery against strict scientific standards set by the MSC. These standards have been developed over the past 15 years in consultation with NGOs, marine scientists and industry experts.

The fishery is one of Australia’s largest, extending from the Queensland/New South Wales border, outside 3 nautical miles, around southern Australia to north of Perth. If certified the fishery will undergo annual surveillance audits in order to ensure that it continues to comply with MSC’s standard.

Assessment to MSC's standard for sustainable fishing

The assessment will measure the fishery against MSC’s standard for sustainable fishing which is based on three core principles:

  • Healthy populations of target stock,
  • Reduced impact on the marine ecosystem (including bycatch and habitat impact) and,
  • The effective management processes of the fishery. “The MSC’s independent assessment process and fisheries standard use the best available science and evidence-based facts.

Fisheries in the MSC program deliver tangible benefits

"The assessment process also gives all stakeholders the opportunity to have their say before and after a fishery is assessed. No judgements are made about how sustainable a fishery is until it has completed a full assessment and then we let the science speak for itself,” added Mr Caleo.

“We have more than 300 fisheries worldwide engaged in the MSC program. This includes very small artisanal fisheries as well as very large industrial fisheries. Many have demonstrated tangible environmental benefits from entering the program” said Mr Caleo.

The MSC’s Global Impacts Report 2014 and Annual Report 2013-14 show that fisheries engaged in the MSC certification program are delivering improvements to the marine environment. Since 1999 those achieving MSC certification have made hundreds of improvements to their fishing practices, including measures to reduce unwanted bycatch of endangered species, restore habitat and improve scientific understanding of marine ecosystems. These changes are often incentivised by increased market demand and, in some cases, a price premium for sustainable seafood.

TheFishSite News Desk



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