Spencer Gulf king prawn fishery seeks certification

June 16, 2010 10:19

South Australia's Spencer Gulf king prawn fishery has declared its aim to become the first MSC certified prawn fishery in Australia and has entered assessment for certification against the MSC standard.  If the fishery is successful, Australian prawns bearing the MSC ecolabel will, for the first time, be available to consumers in markets across the globe, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to MSC.

The assessment will cover the 37 member vessels of the Spencer Gulf and West Coast Prawn Fishermen's Association (SGWCPFA) that are licensed to fish for king prawns (Penaeus (Melicertus) latisulcatus) in the South Australia waters of the Spencer Gulf.  Additional vessels that are not currently members of the SGWCPFA, but which join at a later date, may be able to be included in the MSC certificate under a certificate sharing arrangement.
WWF back fishery's MSC bid

WWF is actively supporting the certification of the fishery by acting as a co-client with the SGWCPFA. WWF-Australia's Peter Trott praised the leadership shown by the fishery in seeking independent certification of its sustainability. "We welcome the chance to establish the Spencer Gulf prawn fishery as a blueprint for sustainability. The MSC assessment will also allow the industry to continue to improve its environmental credentials," said Trott.

Meredith Lopuch, director of the Fisheries Program's Major Buyers Initiative at WWF-US, added, "The Spencer Gulf prawn fishery is extremely well managed.  We hope it can serve as an example for other prawn fisheries and show that sustainable practices are rewarded."
Australia prawn's history and sustainable practice

The Spencer Gulf prawn trawl fishery came into operation in 1967 and became a restricted access fishery in 1968.  In association with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Aquatic Sciences division, the fishery has developed a precautionary management plan that includes limiting the annual catch to around 2000 tonnes; restricting fishing to 6 months of the year and only 14 nights per month; and targeting areas with larger size prawns. The fishery is spatially focused and takes place within a relatively small area (<15%) of Spencer Gulf.

Karen Hollamby, speaking on behalf of the SGWCPFA, said, "The fishery has been operating for over 40 years in a sustainable way. Working with the government, the Association has proactively managed the fishery to ensure sustainability while maximising the economic benefit to the community. Our commitment to a sustainable prawn stock and environmental improvements can be seen through initiatives such as the use of bycatch reduction devices."

"The Association chose the MSC certification programme as a route to demonstrating our sustainability because the standard is demanding and the thresholds high. We will continue to improve the fishery and secure future livelihoods and better returns for fishers."
What the MSC says

Patrick Caleo, country manager for the MSC, said, "I am very pleased to welcome the Spencer Gulf prawn fishery into the MSC assessment process. I would also like to thank WWF for all the support and assistance they have provided the fishery along the way. The seafood market in Australia and across the globe is expanding supplies of MSC certified products and, if successful in gaining certification, Spencer Gulf prawn fishers should experience high demand for their product. I hope that their support for the MSC programme will encourage other fisheries interested in demonstrating their sustainability using a credible, science-based, third-party assessment to come forward to seek MSC certification."
Getting involved

The assessment will be carried out by independent certifier Moody Marine Ltd.  Anyone with an interest in the fishery can be involved in the assessment and the certifier has already identified 19 major stakeholders drawn from government, industry and environmental non-governmental organisations.

If you would like to be involved as a stakeholder, please contact Richard Banks, team leader, at r.banks@moodyint.com.  For a guide to taking part in an MSC assessment as a stakeholder, please visit: www.msc.org/documents/get-certified/stakeholders .

For more information about the fishery certification, contact Patrick Caleo at Patrick.Caleo@msc.org .

For more information about sales or marketing of the Lincoln Wild Kings prawn brand, please contact Karen Hollamby at eo@prawnassociation.com.au .

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