Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Gail Gago said the recent resurgence of the industry shows what effective fisheries management underpinned by good science can achieve.
“The Pipi industry is part of the Lakes and Coorong Fishery, one of only two South Australian fisheries to obtain the highly-sought independent sustainability accreditation from the Marine Stewardship council,” Ms Gago said.
“In order to address concerns about the future sustainability of the Pipi fishery a quota system was introduced in 2007 and a new harvest strategy was developed in 2012.
“To ensure a sustainable future for the fishery, while still responding to a growing interest in the product from food consumers, fishery managers and industry recognised the need for an improved management framework,” she said.
“The good news is that according to scientific advice, the fishery has recovered to a sustainable position with the total allowable commercial catch increasing to 450 tonnes for the 2013-14 season, while gross value of production has increased from $752,000 in the early 1990’s to $3 million in 2011-12.”
Minister Gago said to support the fishery’s growth the State Government and industry have been working to develop a competitive market strategy for Pipi, aligning its operation to the State Government’s Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment strategic priority.
“This includes the ongoing use of a South Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program, which commenced in 2001 and ensures that all harvested Pipi meet national food safety standards,” she said.
“Only Pipi harvested from the waters classified and monitored by PIRSA’s quality assurance program can be sold for human consumption.
“Earlier this year SARDI researchers and the industry received State Government funding towards designing packaging that extends shelf life and makes transportation easier, which will help producers expand this niche industry to new markets interstate and internationally.”
Independent Chair of the Goolwa Pipi Harvesters’ Association Roger Edwards said the close co-operation between fishers and Government has ensured the sustainability of the fishery.
“The partnership approach between industry, scientists and managers illustrates how a struggling resource can be turned around and lead to sustainable harvest for the benefit of the fishery and the South Australian economy,” he said.
“I also applaud the State Government in assisting us with value adding initiatives that will increase our opportunities for export.”
The Southern Fishermen’s Association’s Executive Officer, Neil McDonald said the strong relationship created between the industry, PIRSA and SARDI in developing a management and research regime that supports best practice approaches was welcomed.
“The management and research program for the fishery provides a framework for a sustainable future based on a conservative harvesting approach. The strong relationship underpins our economic security and the ability to supply a premium food product to a range of key markets using our regional advantages,” he said.