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Western Australian Gov't Secures Prosperous Future for Fish, Fisheries

20 September 2012, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has congratulated the Western Australian Government for partnering with the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) for an Australian first: a A$14.5million fund for Western Australian fisheries to gain third party sustainability certification.

"MSC applauds WA Governments strong commitment to ensuring the sustainability of the fishing industry and the health of its oceans. I am also delighted the government has chosen the MSC certification and ecolabelling program to verify the sustainability of its fisheries," said MSC chief executive, Rupert Howes.

WAFIC Chairman Brad Adams welcomed the announcement: "The Western Australian fishing industry recognises the need for independent sustainability validation of our fisheries management regimes to meet increasing demands from the Western Australian community and seafood consumers," he said.

"The recent event associated with the small pelagic fishery shows how quickly support for our industry can evaporate in the face of the community concern. The Marine Stewardship Council certification standard is recognised as providing the worlds highest measure of fisheries environmental performance and that is why WAFIC fully supports the Ministers choice of the MSC as the means to provide credible assurance to the community."

"WAFIC looks forward to working with the MSC, the Department of Fisheries and the supply chain, from fishers through to retailers and chefs, on the roll out of this significant and important initiative," Mr Adams said.

The A$14.5 million funding will be rolled out over the next four years and will be split into A$8 million for ongoing research and management and $6.5 million for assessment to gain MSC certification.

"Western Australia is home to the rock lobster fishery, which was the worlds first MSC certified sustainable fishery. Now with this partnership between industry and government, the region is demonstrating tremendous leadership in transforming the seafood industry to a sustainable basis," said Mr Howes.

"WA commercial fisheries are widely recognised as well-managed and undergoing an independent assessment against the MSC standard will provide verification of good management and help the fisheries access the market benefits associated with globally recognised ecolabel."

The MSC maintains the most widely respected and recognised global standard for the certification of wild capture seafood. The programme is based on a rigorous science-based standard and independent, third-party assessment by internationally accredited certification bodies. The MSC standard comprises three core principles against which a fishery's performance is assessed: the status of the fish stock, the impact of the fishery on the marine ecosystem, and the management system overseeing the fishery.

Once certified, Western Australian fisheries' products will be eligible to carry the MSCs distinctive blue ecolabel which provides assurance to seafood buyers and consumers worldwide that the seafood is fully traceable to a sustainable fishery that has been awarded MSC certification.

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