Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) has been certified as sustainable, meeting Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) global standards and bringing Australia’s total number of certified fisheries to seven.
NPF’s banana, tiger and endeavour prawns will now carry the blue MSC marine ecolabel, with the fishery being the first in the world to supply MSC certified banana and tiger prawns.
According to David Agnew, director of standards, MSC, the NPF has achieved one of the highest scores so far seen in any assessment, achieving a score of more than 95 out of 100 over all three certification principles: sustainability of the target stock, the environmental impact of fishing operations and the management and governance systems that are in place.
The NPF scored 100 per cent for stock status for each of its tiger prawn species.
Agnew describes the results as a “tremendous achievement” for the NPF and said “the MSC considers 100 per cent scorers to be state of the art performers.”
NPF’s certification process looked at its 52 vessels and covered six species of prawns: the brown tiger, grooved tiger, blue endeavour, red endeavour, white banana and red-legged banana prawn.
“NPF has been a willing partner and leader of many significant initiatives in the region to improve prawn stocks, reduce by-catch and foster research to improve the overall sustainability of the NPF. Recognition by the MSC is a crowning achievement,” said David Carter vice chairman, NPF. “Our deep thanks go to World Wild Life Fund (US) and Woolworths for their financial contribution to assist in this landmark MSC assessment.”
With a reach extending from Cape Londonderry in Western Australia to Cape York in Queensland, the NPF spans three Australian states and is one of the country’s largest fisheries with an annual catch of 8,000 metric tonne of prawns, and a turnover of approximately $90 million each year.
Agnew said the new certification has raised the number of MSC certified fisheries worldwide to 183, and there are 114 currently undergoing assessment.
It is estimated that 11 per cent of the world’s wild capture fisheries are already, or in the process of becoming, MSC certified, and by around 2020 the MSC aims to see this number rise to 20 per cent.
Newly appointed NPF ambassador, chef Tim Kime, who owns sustainable seafood café Fish & Co in Annandale, explains he is “very excited” about his new role. Fish & Co currently offers patrons seven MSC certified fish varieties, and his menu will soon expand to accommodate the newly certified prawns.
“I look forward to creating some exciting new signature dishes that highlight the blue credentials of the tiger prawns, the endeavour and the banana prawns from the NPF,” he said.
Kime (pictured) is passionate about the use of sustainable seafood and firmly believes that the MSC certification not only makes sustainable seafood more accessible to Australians, but means prawns will also be more highly sought-after in overseas markets.
“Sustainability is not cultural highbrow, it is about making everyday seafood choices. With MSC certification for the Northern Prawn Fishery every barbeque in Australia can be sustainable, there is no excuse for it not to be,” he said.
“Sustainability is not a political move, it’s a practical step to ensure the long term viability and profitability of the Australian prawn industry.”
Seafood sustainability has been a big issue in the industry this year. The certification of foodservice distribution giant Bidvest as a supplier of sustainable seafood in September is expected to opened a gateway for all foodservice operators to gain certification, and the crowing of other fisheries including the Spencer Gulf king prawn fishery, the WA rock lobster fishery, the Lakes and Coorong fishery and the Macquarie Island toothfish fishery have all helped to keep the limelight on sustainable fishing practices.
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