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Prawn Fishery Applies For MSC Certification

by the Fish Site Editor
31 May 2011, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - Australias largest and most valuable prawn fishery, the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF), has entered full assessment for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.

The NPF, which mainly catches banana and tiger prawns using otter trawling methods, has recently been recognised by the United Nations as a global model for sustainable fisheries management.

The MSC assessment will cover the 52 vessels represented by the NPF Industry Pty Ltd. The annual catch is 1628mt of tiger prawns and 5,642mt of banana prawns, worth approximately A$80 million and sold on both the domestic and export markets, including Japan and China.

The WWF will be providing technical and financial support to the NPF throughout the process. Independent certification body, the Marine Resources Assessment Group (MRAG), will evaluate the NPF against the MSC environmental standard for well-managed and sustainable fisheries.

The MSC standard examines the sustainability of the target fish stock, the environmental impact of fishing operations and the management and governance systems that are in place.

Ms Annie Jarrett, CEO of the NPF Industry Pty Ltd, says the industry is very excited about the decision to pursue MSC certification.

“We are very proud of our environmental performance and the eco-system based management practices we have adopted over a long period in the NPF. The NPF was the first fishery in the world to develop a by-catch action plan, which has been continually updated since its introduction in 1997. The NPF is also among the first major fisheries in the world to fully embrace both economic efficiency and environmental sustainability in an operational management system”, Ms Jarrett commented.

Meredith Lopuch, Director of the Major Buyer Initiative (Fisheries), for WWF-US says, "Prawns are a hugely popular seafood item. Unfortunately, many prawn fisheries around the globe are poorly managed, and as a result have high by-catch levels and cause substantial habitat degradation.”

“The Australian NPF, on the other hand, is committed to sustainable fisheries management, and we are hopeful that it can achieve MSC certification. If it does achieve certification, the fishery's responsible efforts will be rewarded in the marketplace, providing an incentive for other tropical shrimp trawl fisheries to adopt similar sustainable fishing practices," continued Ms Lopuch.

Patrick Caleo, MSC Manager ANZ, welcomes the NPF into the MSC assessment process saying, “By entering their fishery into the MSC assessment process the NPF is showing real commitment to sustainable fishing practices, and is playing an important role in safeguarding wild-caught prawns stocks in Australia for future generations.“

“The NPF should be commended for undertaking such a scientifically rigorous and transparent assessment of their fishing practices, and I wish them well in their efforts.”

the Fish Site Editor