Australian fishery gains first combined recreational, commercial MSC certification

Published on
June 23, 2016

Collaboration between Western Australia (WA) community-based organization Recfishwest and the Mandurah Licensed Fisherman’s Association (MLFA) has led to the first Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified combined recreational and commercial fishery.

The two groups came together in 2008 with support from WA Department of Fisheries with the objective to secure sustainable certification for the Peel Harvey blue swimmer crab and mullet fishery.

"We want to see a very healthy fishery for generations to come, whether it be from a business perspective, for enjoyment by recreational fishermen, or both. We understand we need to be in this together," said Dr. Andrew Rowland, chief executive of Recfishwest.

The recreational fishing body estimates between 50,000 and 100,000 people enjoy fishing for crabs in the Peel-Harvey Estuary. There are also professional fishers, some of whom have fished the area for generations, landing in the region of 100 metric tons (MT) of crab and 55 MT of sea mullet annually.

This is the third MSC certification to be supported by the WA Government’s AUD 14.5 million (USD 11 million, EUR 9.6 million) investment in third-party certification for the state’s 50 commercial fisheries.

Damien Bell, commercial fisher and president of MLFA, said MSC certification would offer the local community the assurance that fishing practices are sustainable for the long-term.

“For Peel Harvey, MSC certification goes beyond market recognition. For the commercial fishers of the MLFA, MSC has helped in providing social recognition that we are operating sustainably and are fully accountable for our impact on stocks and the wider marine environment. To us, that is essential for our long-term access to the fishery and good news for the public for whom we harvest fresh, local and now proven sustainable seafood,” said Bell.

Mullet from the fishery will also be the first finfish caught in WA water to carry the blue MSC label, opening up opportunities for chefs and restaurants looking to serve certified sustainable and local seafood.

“We know recreational fishing can have a big role in conserving fisheries. To see these two sectors come together to achieve MSC certification shows best practice of co-management in action,” said Patrick Caleo, regional director of MSC Asia Pacific.

Certification of the fishery was conducted by an independent assessment team assembled by SCS Global Services.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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