First Abalone fishery to achieve MSC certification

30 Oct 2017
Western Australia Abalone Fishery produce

The Western Australia Abalone Fishery now has MSC-certified greenlip, brownlip and Roe abalone

The Western Australia Abalone Fishery is the first of its kind globally to be awarded Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.

Certification for the greenlip, brownlip and Roe abalone comes after a 12-month assessment by independent auditing body SCS Global Services.

Anne Gabriel, programme director for MSC Oceania, said: “Through collaboration and the support of the Western Australian Department of Fisheries, abalone from this fishery are now eligible to carry the MSC blue tick of approval.”

Market stability

Alongside achieving environmental sustainability, the abalone fishery is now expected to benefit from access to new markets, market stability and security, product differentiation, an enhanced reputation, and improved traceability, added Ms Gabriel.

The fishery operates in a multimillion dollar market between Australia, Japan, China and South-East Asia. About half of its product is exported, primarily to China.

“MSC certified seafood is a well-recognised standard within many countries, including China and Singapore, as it offers traceability which is important to our International customers,” stated Peter Rickerby, chairman & interim EO at Abalone Industry Association WA.

IUU threat

“Abalone fisheries worldwide face threats from illegal and unreported fishing,” added Sabine Daume, Australian regional representative for SCS Global Services. “With this certification the Western Australia Abalone Fishery has demonstrated strong commitment and stewardship to the principles and practice of sustainability.”

Abalone is collected by hand in shallow waters with divers using ‘hookah’ (surface supplied breathing apparatus) or scuba gear. The shellfish are pried from rocks using an ‘iron’. Greenlip and brownlip abalone are caught primarily on the south coast of western Australia, whilst Roe’s abalone is most abundant on the south west coast.

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