MSC certification underpins Australia-based rock lobster company

Geraldton Fishermen’s Cooperative CEO Matt Rutter

For Australia-based rock lobster company Geraldton Fishermen’s Cooperative, certification to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard is a credential that “underpins” the company and the fishery.

Geraldton Fishermen’s Cooperative CEO Matt Rutter, speaking to SeafoodSource during Seafood Expo Global – which ran from 25 to 27 April in Barcelona, Spain – said MSC certification has been a key goal of the Australian rock lobster fishery for years. The company is one of the largest rock lobster exporters in the world, he said, and catches roughly 5,000 metric tons of product each year.

“It’s also the world’s first MSC sustainable fishery; we were the first fishery in the world to be certified by the MSC,” Rutter said. “We just got our fifth recertification.”

The fisher-owned cooperative company, Rutter said, has kept the tenants of MSC certification at the core of the company.

“Without a doubt, our MSC certification, that sustainability, underpins our fishery as a whole,” he said.

Sustainability for the company is about more than certification. The sustainability of the communities that its 320 members live in, he said, is also vital.

“We’re very focused on returning full value back to them and back to the communities in which they operate,” Rutter said. “We catch across over 1,000 kilometers of coastline, and many small towns rely on our fishery to survive.”

The strong sustainability of the stock, he said, helps with the sustainability of the communities that fish for the rock lobster. The high stocks of the species, as well as low fishing pressure, means that it takes less fishing effort to catch a high number of rock lobster.

“We have very high stock on the ground; our catch rates are really the envy of the world in terms of kilos per pot pulled,” Rutter said.

That means that fishermen don’t have to fish as hard to catch what they need and save money on fuel. It also results in fishermen keeping traps in the water for a short time, which in turn helps minimize interactions with whales. 

Fishermen, he said, can fish all 365 days of the year, and the sustainability of the stock means they don’t have to fish every single day to make ends meet.

“If they don’t go fishing today, they will catch it tomorrow or the next day,” Rutter said. “The fishers are not fishing for fear; they’re fishing to the market, and they’re fishing to their costs. They can view the resource as always being there.”

It also means fishermen …

Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource

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