Western Australia’s Exmouth Gulf and Shark Bay prawn fisheries have received the independent Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for sustainable fishing.
The two fisheries operate in the Gascoyne Region, which is home to a range of important animals such as protected migratory seabirds, threatened hawksbill and flatback turtles and vulnerable whale sharks.
The region is also home to important habitats such as seagrass beds and coral reefs, and to a diversity of fish and other marine creatures. The MSC certification of these fisheries ensures they are operating sustainably and not significantly impacting on these very important species.
Exmouth Gulf and Shark Bay are the first fisheries to achieve MSC certification through the WA Government’s 14.5 million dollar partnership between the Western Australia Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) and the MSC.
MSC’s CEO Rupert Howes, while speaking at the Seafood Directions conference in Fremantle, congratulated the fisheries on the achievement.
“The fishing industry in Western Australia has shown tremendous initiative in supporting the sustainability of their fisheries,” Mr Howes said.
“With the MSC certification, Shark Bay and Exmouth Gulf have the assurance they are performing at sustainable levels in accordance with the most scientific and rigorous wild caught fishing standard available,” he said.
With the addition of Shark Bay and Exmouth Gulf prawns completing an independent third-party assessment against the MSC standard, more than 50% of the wild caught prawns in Australia are now MSC certified sustainable. The two fisheries provide Tiger and King prawns to fish mongers and restaurants in WA, across Australia and internationally. The prawns are available under the Shark Bay Wild brand, sold by the seven operators of the Shark Bay fishery. Prawns from Exmouth Gulf are sold under the Exmouth Wild brand fished through MG Kailis group.
WWF-Australia spokesperson Jo-Anne McCrea said the certification of Shark Bay and Exmouth Gulf prawn fisheries is good news for the regions species.
“MSC certification, builds on existing practices, such as the use of turtle exclusion devices on nets, which have significantly reduced the amount of turtle bycatch,” Ms McCrea said.
“WWF congratulates the WA Government for its leadership in supporting independent accreditation such as MSC certification. Other governments would do well to follow WA’s lead in supporting its fishing and aquaculture industries to demonstrate sustainable credentials through 3rd party independent certifications,” she said.
The MSC standard assesses three core principles including fishery stock health, impact on marine environment and management of the fishery. MSC certified fisheries are continually monitored and must complete annual surveillance audits as well as being reassessed every 5 years. More than 570 improvements to fishing practices and environmental management have been identified with fisheries in the MSC program.
For more information:
MSC: Communications Manager, Charlotte Connell firstname.lastname@example.org; www.msc.org
WWF-Australia: National Media Manager, Daniel Rockett