Thursday, June 30, 2016

30/06/2016: In West Australia, Mandurah’s mighty fishers unite for world’s first MSC certified recreation and commercial fishery

A monumental milestone in fisheries management was achieved today following a collaborative effort from community based organisation, Recfishwest and the Mandurah Licensed Fisherman’s Association (MLFA).
The two groups came together in 2008 with support from WA Department of Fisheries. Their objective was to secure prestigious certification to the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) rigorous standard for sustainable fishing for the Peel Harvey blue swimmer crab and mullet fishery. The certification was conducted by an independent, expert assessment team assembled by SCS Global Services, an ASI-accredited certification body.
“Achieving MSC certification requires a holistic approach to fisheries management,” says Patrick Caleo, Regional Director of MSC Asia Pacific. 
“We’ve seen tremendous leadership by the Peel Harvey stakeholders working together to keep the fishery sustainable and thriving.”
Recfishwest's Chief Executive Dr Andrew Rowland said its involvement was a reflection of the importance of the fishery to the recreational sector.
"We want to see a very healthy fishery for generations to come, whether it be from a business perspective, for enjoyment by recreational fishermen, or both. We understand we need to be in this together," he said.
Not all those benefiting from the fishery are human: a black cormorant flies low across the harbour at Mandurah (Image: PsJeremy)
This is the third MSC certification to be supported by WA Government’s AUS$14.5m investment in third-party certification for the State’s 50 commercial fisheries.
Damien Bell, commercial fisher and President of MLFA, says MSC certification will offer their local community the assurance that their fishing practices are sustainable for the long term.
“For Peel Harvey, MSC certification goes beyond market recognition. For the commercial fishers of the MLFA, MSC has helped in providing social recognition that we are operating sustainably and are fully accountable for our impact on stocks and the wider marine environment. To us, that is essential for our long term access to the fishery and good news for the public for whom we harvest fresh, local and now proven sustainable seafood,” says Mr Bell.
Mullet from the fishery will be the first finfish caught in WA water to carry the blue MSC label, opening up opportunities in WA for chefs and restaurants that wish to serve certified sustainable and local seafood.
“We know recreational fishing can have a big role in conserving fisheries. To see these two sectors come together to achieve MSC certification shows best practice of co-management in action,” says Mr Caleo.
The Peel Harvey Estuarine Fishery now joins the 285 MSC certified fisheries globally, landing 10 percent of all wild caught seafood and is the eleventh certified fishery in Australia.
Fisheries are assessed by third party, independent auditors against the MSC Standard which 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.
Read more HERE.

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