- Exmouth Gulf and Shark Bay prawns receive MSC certification for sustainable fishing
- The region is home to turtles, whale sharks and migratory seabirds
- The first fisheries to be certified through WA’s AUS$14.5 million project
- More than 50% of wild-caught prawns in Australia are MSC certified sustainable
Western Australia’s Exmouth Gulf and Shark Bay prawn fisheries have received the independent Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for sustainable fishing.
The two fisheries operate in the Gascoyne Region, which is home to a range of important animals such as protected migratory seabirds, threatened hawksbill and flatback turtles and vulnerable whale sharks.
The region is also home to important habitats such as seagrass beds and coral reefs, and to a diversity of fish and other marine creatures. The MSC certification of these fisheries ensures they are operating sustainably and not significantly impacting on these very important species and habitats.
Exmouth Gulf and Shark Bay are the first fisheries to achieve MSC certification through the WA Government’s $14.5 million partnership between the Western Australia Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) and MSC.
MSC’s CEO Rupert Howes, while speaking at the Seafood Directions conference in Fremantle, congratulated the fisheries on their achievement.
“The fishing industry in Western Australia has shown tremendous initiative in championing the sustainability of their fisheries,” Mr Howes said.
“With the MSC certification, Shark Bay and Exmouth Gulf have the assurance they are performing at sustainable levels in accordance with the world’s most scientific and rigorous wild caught fishing standard,” he said.
With the addition of Shark Bay and Exmouth Gulf prawns completing an independent third-party assessment against the MSC Standard, more than 50% of the wild caught prawns in Australia are now MSC certified sustainable. The two fisheries provide tiger and king prawns to fish mongers and restaurants in WA, across Australia and internationally. The prawns are available under the Shark Bay Wild brand, sold by the seven operators of the Shark Bay fishery. Prawns from Exmouth Gulf are sold under the Exmouth Wild brand fished through MG Kailis group.
WWF-Australia spokesperson Jo-Anne McCrea said the certification of Shark Bay and Exmouth Gulf prawn fisheries is good news for the region’s species.
“MSC certification, builds on existing practices, such as the use of turtle exclusion devices on nets, which have significantly reduced turtle bycatch,” Ms McCrea said.
“WWF congratulates the WA Government for its leadership in supporting independent accreditation such as MSC certification. Other governments would do well to follow WA’s lead in supporting its fishing and aquaculture industries to demonstrate sustainable credentials through third party independent certifications,” she said.
The MSC Standard assesses three core principles including fishery stock health, impact on marine environment and management of the fishery. MSC certified fisheries are continually monitored and must complete annual surveillance audits as well as being reassessed every five years. More than 615 improvements to fishing practices and environmental management have been delivered by MSC certified fisheries since 2000.