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Aussie seafood producer aiming for world-first in certification

By RJ Whitehead , 26-Mar-2014

An Australian seafood is hoping to receive a world first with Marine Stewardship Council certification for its mahi mahi, while also becoming Australia’s first tuna fishery to enter assessment to the MSC sustainable fisheries standard.

Heidi Walker of Walker Seafoods said she is looking forward to seeing the company’s seafood with the blue tick in restaurants that pride themselves on providing local sustainable seafood.

"We believe Australia leads the world in sustainable fishing. Our boats will be the first in the southern hemisphere to undergo MSC assessment for yellowfin tuna and swordfish and the only company in the world to assess mahi mahi," said Walker.

WA ambitions

The submission coincides with MG Kailis Exmouth Gulf prawns committing to go under assessment for MSC certification. 

This would take the number of Australian fisheries engaged in the MSC program to 10, which include Australia’s two most commercially successful fisheries: western rock lobster and northern prawns fishery,” said MSC country manager Patrick Caleo.

MG Kailis’ Exmouth prawns is the first fishery under the Western Australian government’s A$14.5m (US$13.4m) initiative to agree to be assessed against the MSC’s sustainability and environmental standard. This initiative will give every commercial WA fishery the opportunity to be independently certified.

"Independent, credible, third-party MSC certification will provide confidence to seafood consumers that WA’s commercial fisheries deliver sustainable seafood. The state government’s MSC initiative provides the seafood industry a unique opportunity to ensure a vibrant and secure future,” said Western Australian Fishing Industry Council chief executive John Harrison.

Growing certification

In Australia more than 50% of the wild-caught prawns are MSC-certified or under assessment.

"Demand for third-party verified, sustainably-caught seafood is growing, and leading retailers and brands are responding. We have around 250 MSC labelled products on supermarket shelves in Australia," said Caleo.

To gain MSC certification, fisheries must undergo an independent audit to assess whether they reach the MSC’s international standard for a sustainable fishery, which is based on the three key principles of viability of target stock, impact on the marine ecosystem and management of the fishery.

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