Each year the Department of Fisheries publishes the Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia, that delivers a scientific assessment on each fishery; last year’s report concluded that 97% of WA Fisheries are sustainably managed. Of the remaining, management responses are in place or proposed to support stock recovery.
This is an excellent result in which all Western Australians should be proud, but still many in the community are not sure that our fisheries are sustainable. The level of doubt is revealed in the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation’s (FRDC) research into Community Perceptions of the sustainability of the Australian fishing industry in 2013:
Do you think the following sectors of the Australian fishing industry are sustainable?
Managing wild-capture fisheries is a dynamic and complex process. It is easy for some groups to make broad, sweeping generalizations about entire species, undifferentiated by individual stocks and fisheries, that can threaten not only the supply of seafood to the community, but livelihoods of professional fishermen.
Clearly, it is imperative that the whole community has no doubt about the sustainability of our fisheries and that sustainable fisheries are recognised and rewarded. MSC certified fisheries demonstrate that not only is the fish stock sustainably managed, but that fishing impacts on the environment are minimized and sound fishery management regimes are in place. This is simply, easily and credibly communicated every time a consumer sees the blue fish ecolabel on seafood in a fresh fish counter, on packaging or on a menu.
So, in a nutshell, why have WA’s fisheries assessed by a third party body like the MSC?
Both Coles and Woolworths have seafood sustainability policies that recognise the Marine Stewardship Council.
Quote from Neil McSkimming, Responsible Sourcing Manager, Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd:
“At Coles, our customers tell us that the health of our oceans is important to them and seafood should be responsibly sourced. In response to this customer feedback, Coles has committed to only selling responsibly harvested seafood by 2015.
We believe these changing customer needs offer opportunities for the seafood industry in Australia. Independent third party standards and eco-labelling schemes offered by the Marine Stewardship Council are effective ways to convey to customers that the seafood they buy is sustainably sourced.”
“It’s our ambition is to have all our wild-caught seafood range Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified in the long term. MSC is the world’s leading independent certification and ecolabelling scheme for wild-caught seafood. To achieve MSC certification, fisheries must demonstrate - through a rigorous, independent assessment process – that the stocks being targeted are healthy, the fishing practices have minimal impact on the marine eco-system and overall the fishery is well managed.”