Rare Foods Australia awarded MSC certification for wild enhanced greenlip abalone

Published on
June 30, 2022
The Rare Foods Australia and MSC logos

Rare Foods Australia (RFA) has been awarded Marine Stewardship Council certification for its wild enhanced greenlip abalone fishery.

The certification makes it the first greenlip abalone fishery to be certified worldwide, and the twelfth Western Australian fishery to gain MSC certification. RFA is also the second enhanced fishery in Western Australia to gain MSC certification, alongside the silver-lipped pearl oyster fishery.

"World Ocean Day is an excellent day to recognize Rare Foods Australia for putting the long-term health of our ocean and future supply of seafood at the heart of their business. Their innovation and leadership is essential to achieving the MSC's vision for oceans teeming with life and seafood supplies safeguarded for future generations. I'm delighted to welcome this unique and forward-thinking fishery into the MSC program,” MSC Program Director for Oceania and Singapore Anne Gabriel said.

The company was founded as Ocean Grown Abalone (OGA), the first business in the world to develop ocean abalone ranching. OGA was commenced in 2009 to design and create technology to build 10,000 purpose-built reefs for its greenlip abalone population. A pilot in 2011 resulted in the world’s first commercial abalone ranch, which has continued to raise capital, and its purpose-built reef has expanded to occupy 20 kilometers. OGA became RFA in 2021.

“Since 2007, we have worked tirelessly using sustainable practices in the supply of greenlip abalone. Through innovation and patented solutions, we designed and created a reef. We are proud to have pioneered this process and now be recognized independently and internationally as a certified sustainable wild enhanced fishery. It’s been an exciting journey to get here but this is just the beginning with new and exciting possibilities being explored through the business,” RFA Executive Director for Corporate Development Brad Adams said.

Wild enhanced fisheries involve both aquaculture and wild-caught aspects. OGA builds and sets its abalone farms underwater in areas of suitable climates, but that lack natural appropriate reef structures. After the farms are left for six to eight weeks of conditioning, the structures are seeded with hatchery-reared juvenile greenlip abalone from partner company 888 Hatchery. The abalone are then left to grow for two to three years before they can be caught at marketable size.

In 2021, RFA funded a gap analysis through the independent assessment body, bio.inspecta PTY Ltd., that confirmed the RFA operations were within the scope of the MSC standard of a "hatch and catch" enhanced fishery. The RFA team with help and funding from there onwards by the Western Australian state government’s Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development (DPIRD), were able to enter the full MSC certification process.

“The MSC certification is a critical milestone in our journey and anchors our strategic commitment to customers to strengthen our core business. It supports the global tension point between the care for the protection of our oceans but the demand for wild produce to be supplied with continuity and consistency to chefs globally. We are absolutely committed to being rare and reassuringly sustainable and look forward to broadening our offer to our local Australian and global customers,” RFA Chief Executive Officer Rob Jorden said.

RFA was also pleased to partner with the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and bio.inspecta.

Contributing editor reporting from Hawaii, U.S.A.

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