Australia's Abrolhos scallop fishery gains MSC certification

Published on
October 25, 2021
Saucer Scallops caught in the Western Australia Mid-West Scallop Trawl can now officially carry the MSC label.

The Abrolhos Island Mid-West Scallop Trawl fishery of Western Australia has officially gained Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.

According to an MSC press statement, the fishery has been found to be “well-managed and supported by strong science from the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.” The fishery received MSC certification because of enhanced management measures it has implemented – including limiting its number of licenses, setting seasonal closures, specifying gear types to be used, and setting catch limits determined by an annual stock survey, MSC said.

“Western Australia’s leadership and commitment to global best-practice in fisheries management are being benchmarked around the world, in helping safeguard seafood supplies for future generation,” MSC Program Director for Oceania and Singapore Anne Gabriel said.

Stock assessments of the fishery have been strengthened by more than 30 years of survey data, according to MSC. The ishery reopened in 2017 after remaining closed between 2012 and 2016 due to low stocks.

The fishery focuses on the saucer scallop (Ylistrum balloti), also known as Abrolhos scallops, which are processed at dedicated facilities in Fremantle and Geraldton, Australia, and distributed to domestic and international markets, including Singapore and Hong Kong.

The Abrolhos Island scallop fishery brings in more than AUD 5 million (USD 3.7 million, EUR 3.2 million) to the Western Australian economy annually, supporting local jobs and “providing quality, sustainable seafood to consumers across Australia and internationally," MSC said.

The latest certification has grown Western Australia’s portfolio of certified fisheries to 11, representing approximately 90 percent of the state’s fisheries by value. Across Australia, 21 fisheries catching 31 species of fish and shellfish are now certified to MSC standards, representing 47 percent of Australia’s marine wild-catch by volume.

“Regardless of the fishery, national and international buyers are looking for a high-quality product that is sustainable and well-managed and so the Abrolhos scallops tick a lot of boxes,” Western Australia Fishing Industry Council CEO Darryl Hockey said. “Because of the pristine waters in the Abrolhos Islands, the scallops boast a lovely white flesh and sweet taste, which is exactly what buyers are looking for.”

Western Australia Fisheries Minister Don Punch praised the fishery's certification.

"The Abrolhos Island scallop fishery produce delightful saucer scallops - and it is excellent to see these tasty morsels get the MSC blue tick of approval,” he said. “That this fishery has now met the rigorous MSC criteria for minimizing environmental impact, sustainable stocks, and effective management is cause for celebration.”  

Photo courtesy of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

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