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Abrolhos scallops first in Australia to gain the MSC blue fish tick for sustainability

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Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC), Media Release, 18 October 2021

The Abrolhos Island and Mid-West Scallop Trawl Fishery has achieved certification to the MSC Fisheries Standard. It is the first scallop fishery in Australia and the eleventh fishery in Western Australia (WA) to gain this certification.

Celebrating WA’s latest MSC certified fishery are (L to R) WAFIC Chairman Murray Criddle, Hamish Ch’ng of Far West Scallops, Fisheries Minister Don Punch and Geoff McGowan of McBoats Seafood. Photo: WAFIC

The independent assessment conducted by MRAG Americas found the fishery to be well-managed and supported by strong science from the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Management measures in place include a limited number of licenses, set seasonal closures, specified gear types, and catch limits determined by an annual stock survey. The fishery’s stock assessment is underpinned by more than 30 years of survey data.

The fishery targets the saucer scallop (Ylistrum balloti), known for its sweet flavour and firm, white flesh. Abrolhos scallops are processed at dedicated facilities in Fremantle and Geraldton and distributed to domestic and international markets, including Singapore and Hong Kong.

The Abrolhos Island scallop fishery contributes more than $5 million to the Western Australian economy annually, creating local jobs and providing quality, sustainable seafood to consumers across Australia and internationally.

In 2000, Western Rock Lobster became the first fishery in the world to achieve certification to the MSC Fisheries Standard. Western Australia’s portfolio of certified fisheries has now grown to 11 running the length of the WA coastline, which collectively represent approximately 90 percent of the State’s fisheries by value.

Fisheries certified to the MSC Standard are monitored annually by independent auditors and reassessed every five years.

Anne Gabriel, Marine Stewardship Council Program Director – Oceania and Singapore congratulated the Abrolhos Island and Mid-West Scallop Trawl Fishery for achieving certification to the MSC Fisheries Standard, saying “Western Australia’s leadership and commitment to global best practice in fisheries management is helping safeguard seafood supplies for future generations.”

WA Fishing Industry Council Chief Executive Office Darryl Hockey said the MSC certification was highly valued in retail markets around the world.  

“Regardless of the fishery, the national and international buyers are looking for high quality product that is sustainable and well managed and so the Abrolhos scallops tick a lot of boxes. Because of the pristine waters in the Abrolhos Islands the scallops boast a lovely white flesh and sweet taste, which is exactly what buyers are looking for. For these discerning consumers, seeing the blue MSC eco-tick on seafood packaging is part of their buying decision.”

“The value of this certification is reflected in the number of high-value fisheries that are putting in the effort to achieve MSC certification. Its value is recognised globally by wholesalers, retailers and consumers and sets these products apart from the masses,” he said.

Hamish Ch’ng, Managing Director of Far West Scallops which operates the fishery said achieving certification reflects the really good practices that have developed over time in the fishery.

“This is a credit both to industry and to the fisheries department. Fisheries management is something that continues to evolve, and having the MSC Standard to guide future improvement is going to be really beneficial to the fishery.”

Fisheries Minister Don Punch confirmed the WA Governments support for the MSC program saying the MSC tick assures consumers the seafood they buy is sustainable. “This certification is well recognised in local, national and international markets. That this fishery has now met the rigorous MSC criteria for minimising environmental impact, sustainable stocks and effective management is cause for celebration and reflects the combined efforts made by government, industry and the operators towards sustainability for our State’s fisheries.”

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