Australia prawn fisheries recertified under “more rigorous” MSC 2.01 standards

Australia’s Exmouth Gulf prawn and Shark Bay prawn fisheries have been recertified under the Marine Stewardship Council standard, MSC announced in a 15 December press release.

Both fisheries first achieved MSC certification in 2015. For their recertification, they attested to MSC Version 2.01 standards, which were introduced in 2018 and are considered more rigorous, according to the certification organization.

“MSC is the world’s leading science-based standard and eco-labeling program for wild-catch fisheries, with certification confirming fishery sustainability as well as respectful environmental management practices,” Western Australian (WA) Fishing Industry Council CEO Darryl Hockey said. “Australian’s consumers can be confident that Exmouth and Shark Bay certified prawns are a high quality, sustainable choice. Western Australian’s can be proud these local fisheries are meeting the world’s highest standards.”

MSC noted that more than 90 percent of the seafood from WA’s commercial fisheries is certified by its program. There are now 10 MSC-certified fisheries off Western Australia’s coast, with a further two operating in Commonwealth waters off the south coast.

“The recertification of the Shark Bay and Exmouth Gulf prawn fisheries to the MSC Fisheries Standard is brilliant news – for the fishers, for the industry, for the department, for the fishing communities and for everyone who loves Western Australian seafood," MSC CEO Rupert Howes said. "This is welcome news before Christmas. Nowhere else in the world are prawns so synonymous with Christmas, with our research showing that prawns will be on the Christmas menu for two-thirds of Australians this year."

The journeys the two fisheries have taken throughout their time working with MSC has been inspiring, Howes said.

“I remember welcoming the two fisheries into the MSC program in 2015 at Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour. It’s fantastic to see the journeys they’ve been on since then to enable this great result with world-class scores in their assessment, with no conditions. Congratulations to everyone involved. These world-leading and pioneering efforts are ensuring Aussies can enjoy prawns year-round for many years to come," he said. "For consumers, it’s easy to spot MSC-certified prawns in-store this Christmas – just look for the blue fish tick."

Elsewhere, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has delegated legislative functions to industry as part of the co-management of the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF), a first for Commonwealth fisheries, the organization said.

The NPF Industry Pty Ltd. is now able to approve the distribution of fishery data and respond to data requests relating to the fishery. AFMA and the NPFI began making co-management arrangements in 2009, with the industry taking on more responsibility over time, AFMA CEO Wez Norris said.

“With the right checks and balances in place, co-management arrangements can be mutually beneficial for government and industry, and also deliver efficient sustainable management of our natural resources,” Norris said. “Over the last decade the NPFI has continued to demonstrate responsible stewardship in the NPF. The delegation of data release functions is a good example of how industry can play a leadership role in the management process.”

The NFP, which is Australia’s largest and most advanced prawn fishery, became the first tropical prawn fishery in the world to be MSC-certified in 2012, according to NPFI CEO Annie Jarrett.

“As fishery experts, the NPFI works closely with government, scientists and regulators to ensure the NPF is responsibly and sustainably managed,” Jarrett said. “Over the past several years NPFI has led the research into and development of bycatch reduction devices that have reduced the catch of small fish bycatch by 40 percent. The NPFI has a proven track record that shows our operators are well placed to co-manage our fishery and it is great to see that AFMA recognizes that we are committed to ensuring the NPF remains sustainable for years to come.”

NFPI performs data management as a part of its co-management responsibilities, as well as broodstock collection and supply for the prawn aquaculture industry, pre-season briefings, a crew member observer program, catch and effort data summaries, and annual scientific surveys.

Photo courtesy of WAFIC


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