Australia’s Northern prawn fishery enters assessment against MSC standard

May 30, 2011 09:35

Australia's largest and most valuable prawn fishery, the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF), has entered full assessment for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to MSC.

Occupying an area of 771,000 square kilometres off Australia's northern coast, the NPF catches banana and tiger prawns using otter trawling methods, and has been recently recognised by the United Nations as a global model for sustainable fisheries management.

The MSC assessment covers the 52 vessels represented by the client organisation, NPF Industry Pty Ltd. The annual catch is 1628mt of tiger prawns and 5,642mt of banana prawns worth approximately $80 million (AUD), sold on both the domestic and export markets, including Japan and China.

WWF (US and Australia) will be a co-client in the assessment with NPF Industry Pty Ltd, providing technical and financial support throughout the process. Independent certification body, the Marine Resources Assessment Group (MRAG), will evaluate the NPF against the MSC environmental standard for well-managed and sustainable fisheries. The MSC standard examines the sustainability of the target fish stock, the environmental impact of fishing operations and the management and governance systems that are in place.
NPF Industry excited about pursuing certification

Ms Annie Jarrett, CEO of the NPF Industry Pty Ltd, says the industry is very excited about the decision to pursue MSC certification.

"We are very proud of our environmental performance and the eco-system based management practices we have adopted over a long period in the NPF. The NPF was the first fishery in the world to develop a by-catch action plan, which has been continually updated since its introduction in 1997.  The NPF is also among the first major fisheries in the world to fully embrace both economic efficiency and environmental sustainability in an operational management system."

"NPF Industry has been a willing partner and leader of many significant initiatives in the region to improve the stocks, reduce by-catch and foster research to improve the overall sustainability of the NPF. We are producing some of the world's finest quality wild-caught prawns and we are keen to continue to improve our environmental credentials," said Jarrett.
What WWF says:

Meredith Lopuch, Director of the Major Buyer Initiative (Fisheries), for WWF-US says, "Prawns are a hugely popular seafood item. Unfortunately, many prawn fisheries around the globe are poorly managed, and as a result have high by-catch levels and cause substantial habitat degradation."

The Australian Northern Prawn Fishery, on the other hand, is committed to sustainable fisheries management, and we are hopeful that it can achieve MSC certification. If it does achieve certification, the fishery's responsible efforts will be rewarded in the marketplace, providing an incentive for other tropical shrimp trawl fisheries to adopt similar sustainable fishing practices," continued Lopuch.
MSC welcomes world's first banana and tiger prawn fishery into program

Patrick Caleo, MSC Manager ANZ, welcomes the NPF into the MSC assessment process saying, "By entering their fishery into the MSC assessment process the NPF is showing real commitment to sustainable fishing practices, and is playing an important role in safeguarding wild-caught prawns stocks in Australia for future generations."

"Prawns are one of the most highly-sought-after and widely-consumed seafood products in Australia. If successful in gaining MSC certification, the NPF will be well placed to meet the ever-growing consumer demand for sustainably sourced seafood by being one of only a handful of prawn fisheries around the world certified by the MSC, and the first fishery in the world to supply MSC certified banana and tiger prawns," said Caleo.

"The NPF should be commended for undertaking such a scientifically rigorous and transparent assessment of their fishing practices, and I wish them well in their efforts."
About the certifier

Independent certifier MRAG will conduct the assessment of this fishery against the MSC standard. Richard Banks, who can be reached at richard@consult-poseidon.com, is leading the assessment team. Stakeholders with an interest in the fishery are encouraged to provide comments and information for this assessment process.

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