Press releases

Our Ocean conference sees Australian organisations support MSC to accelerate improvements in marine fisheries

October 26, 2018

Australia, 26 October 2018 – At a time when the world’s oceans are increasingly under pressure from overfishing, unsustainable fishing practices and pollution, 30 organisations from 15 countries will join forces with international science-based standard for sustainable fishing, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), at this years Our Ocean conference in Bali, Indonesia, to inspire joint solutions and ambitious commitments in managing our oceans sustainably.

During the two day conference, hosted on 29 and 30 October, the MSC will meet members of the 2020 Leaders for a Living Ocean alliance. The alliance was launched at Our Ocean 2017, where the MSC announced its commitment to engage 20% of global marine catch in its program by 2020.

The 2020 Leaders for a Living Ocean alliance builds on the groundswell of more than 300 fishing operations and 3,000 supply chain businesses, including 80 major retailers, committed to producing and selling seafood certified to the MSC standards. 

Four organisations from Australia are part of the 2020 Leaders for a Living Ocean alliance: the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (WADPIRD), the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC), as well as leading supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths have extended their commitments to increase supply, trade and availability of certified, traceable, sustainable seafood. 

Referenced around the world as a leader in ocean stewardship, the WADPIRD, in partnership with the WAFIC and with support from the WA state government, embarked on a program a few years ago to provide the opportunity for all of the state’s commercial fisheries to achieve MSC certification. 

Coles extends its commitment from last year into this year’s platform recognising that well-managed and responsible fishing is essential for the future sustainability of our marine ecosystems. Coles evaluates their decisions against the impact on the environment, along with how and where the seafood is caught, to help maintain healthy fish populations and habitats, and continues to work with organisations like the MSC to give its customers confidence to help make a better choice for our oceans.

Joining the movement this year, Woolworths Group commits to the development and support of supply chains that reduce their impact on the planet, in meeting their customers expectations to operate in a responsible manner by sourcing high-risk commodities from independently certified sources. In doing so, Woolworths recognises their instrumental role in providing customers with an opportunity to make more informed choices when it comes to the seafood that they buy. 

Program Director of MSC Oceania, Anne Gabriel commented: “We commend the environmental stewardship of these Australian organisations that have stepped forward with tangible, aspirational goals in restating the urgency and magnitude of the dilemma confronting our oceans, its interdependence on humankind, and the importance of collaboration as the bedrock of meaningful, positive impact. 

“We are reassured by the collaboration and intense momentum we see here across key constituents from government, the industry and retailers within the seafood domain. Australia should continue to be proud of its aspirations towards resilient oceans.  

“In its 21st year as a global science-based international certification standard for sustainable fishing and seafood, the MSC has seen significant positive change and impact on the waters.

“There are over 30,000 products around the world using the MSC ecolabel, and the market for certified sustainable and labelled seafood is worth almost US$6 billion. This growth is attributed to the MSC program being widely recognised as the most rigorous and credible indicator of environmental sustainability and traceability in the seafood sector,” said Gabriel.

Rupert Howes, CEO of the Marine Stewardship Council, said, “These commitments, policies and ambitions by various organisations are reinventing economies by changing our production and consumption patterns and incorporating the ecological effects of our actions into the very fabric of how businesses are managed. International platforms such as the Our Ocean Conference inspire affirmative action, unite shared values and promises, and remind us of the imperative collective endeavour and individual accountability in protecting our natural resources towards meeting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.” 

To date, 420 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program across 36 countries, harvesting 14% of global marine wild catch. The MSC’s Global Impacts Report indicates that 94% of fisheries entering the program have made at least one improvement to achieve or maintain certification, totaling more than 1,200 over the last 16 years. 

Full text of commitments from Australia: 

Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council 
The Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, in partnership with the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) and with support from the State Government, has embarked on a program which will provide the opportunity for all of the state’s commercial fisheries to achieve MSC certification. The program is now in its fifth year of operation. All 47 of WA's commercial fisheries have been pre-assessed to the MSC Fisheries Standard. In addition to the eight fisheries that have been certified, two new fisheries have recently entered full assessment towards certification, and several conditions for improvement on existing certifications have now been closed.

Coles 
Coles recognises that well-managed and responsible fishing is essential for the future sustainability of our marine ecosystems. Different programs and certifications ensure potential impacts on marine health and the environment are carefully monitored. All Coles Brand seafood products have Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification or meet Coles Responsibly Sourced Seafood criteria. Coles has undertaken independent assessments of hundreds of wild and farmed seafood products to meet robust Coles Brand responsible sourcing requirements and continues to review its program as fish stocks can fluctuate and the environment in which fisheries operate is complex and ever-changing. In September 2017, Coles was awarded Best Sustainable Seafood Supermarket in Australia by MSC. Coles will continue to work with organisations like the MSC, to give its customers confidence to help make a better choice for our oceans.

Woolworths 
Woolworths Group is committed to the development and support of supply chains that reduce our impact on the planet. Our customers expect us to operate in a responsible manner by sourcing high-risk commodities from independently certified sources. Woolworths recognises our instrumental role in providing customers with an opportunity to make more informed choices when it comes to the seafood that they buy. By the year 2020, we commit to sourcing all our fish and seafood from fisheries and farms that are third-party certified (e.g. MSC and ASC) or independently verified as environmentally responsible.

The MSC’s commitment update from 2017 Our Ocean Conference in Malta  
At the 2017 Our Ocean Conference in Malta, the MSC announced its commitment to engage 20% of global marine catch in its program by 2020, supporting productivity and resilience in globally important marine ecosystems. 
 
Under this initiative, businesses are incentivised to accelerate improvements within the timeframe of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The plan for the period up to 2020 includes: 
• Expanding the number of key Large Marine Ecosystems in which more than 20% of the marine catch is MSC certified, 
• Growing the number of key commercial species for which 20% of the global catch is MSC certified, and 
• Significantly increasing the number of fisheries engaged in the MSC program in the Global South. 
 
The MSC’s aspirations remain on track with regards to engaging fisheries within key Large Marine Ecosystems and expanding important commercial species. Engagement strategies have been put in place for octopus, squid, crab, whitefish, tuna and reduction fisheries. The MSC’s aims to significantly increase the number of fisheries engaged in the MSC program in the Global South has seen 64% year on year growth from 59 fisheries to 97 fisheries (April 2017 to March 2018).
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