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Matt Rutter, chief executive of the Geraldton Fishermen's Co-Operative at the company's live lobster processing plant in Welshpool. Credit: Nic Ellis/

Western Rock Lobster fishery leads way in sustainability with record fifth MSC certification

Click on the flag for more information about Australia AUSTRALIA
Monday, December 05, 2022, 06:10 (GMT + 9)

The western rock lobster industry is proudly patting itself on the back after breaking a record by receiving certification for the fifth time from the Marine Stewardship Council for meeting sustainability benchmarks.

The MSC Fisheries Standard is an international certification which assesses how efficient and environmentally friendly a fishery is.

To be certified, the fishery must be able to show it is managed sustainably, with minimal environmental impact, must comply with local laws and be able to adapt to changing environmental circumstances.

The western rock lobster fishery was the first to be certified by the MSC in 2000, and has continuously met the MSC’s standards for the past 22 years.

Matt Rutter, CEO of Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative, said sustainability was at the core of the co-op’s practices.

“Consumers and fishers are aligned regarding sustainability; Buyers want to know they are making an ethical choice when purchasing seafood,” he said.

Since first being certified in 2000, the co-op said the fishery has reduced its amount of waste while catching less, but larger, lobster.

In 2000 the co-op said it made 10.5 million pot lifts, with an average lobster weight of 1kg, while in 2021 it made 2.4 million pot lifts with an average catch of 3.65kg.

“As custodians of the fishery, many of our members are intergenerational fishing families who are fishing for today and the next generation,” Mr Rutter said.

Matt Taylor, CEO of the Western Rock Lobster Council, said the success of the fishery was down to a strong partnership between the industry and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional development.

“We work very closely with industry and government to ensure effective two-way communication that facilitates the best outcomes for the resource, industry and community,” he said.

Sustainable practices means the future for the industry looks bright, according to Mr Taylor.

“As long as we have secure access to the resource and we are wise about how we catch, the western rock lobster fishery will continue to deliver benefits to the people of Western Australia for generations to come,” he said.

The certification requires a fishery to meet “very stringent standards” according to Dr Simon de Lestang, principal research scientist at DPIRD.

“The western rock lobster fishery is world famous for its level of research and sustainability,” he said.

Anne Gabriel, MSC program manager for Oceania, said the fishery was very worthy of the record.

“The western rock lobster fishery is undoubtedly an iconic world leader in sustainability,” she said.

“The western rock lobster fishery continues to thrive with positive ecological and management performances.”

Fisheries Minister Don Punch congratulated the industry on the milestone.

“WA’s Western Rock Lobster industry should be very proud of its commitment to sustainability, especially for being the first fishery to commit to MSC’s high standards,” he said.

Western Rock Lobster is Australia’s most valuable single-species wild capture fishery, contributing over $400 million to WA’s economy annually pre-Covid. Driven by family-owned local businesses, the industry remains a key regional employer generating around 1,850 direct and indirect full-time jobs in the fishing, processing, transport, boat building, and tourism industries.

Author: Jamie Thannoo / Geraldton Guardian



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