Press release

Western Australia octopus earns the blue fish tick for sustainability

November 19, 2019

  • Western Australia octopus fishery achieves certification against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard for sustainability
  • First octopus fishery in the southern hemisphere to achieve MSC certificate

  • 12 species from Western Australian fisheries now have the MSC blue fish tick for sustainability, representing close to 90% of fisheries by value in the state  

The Western Australia octopus fishery has become the first octopus fishery in the southern hemisphere to be certified to the internationally recognised Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable fishing.

Fishing licence-holders involved in this landmark certification celebrated this achievement in Fremantle, Western Australia on Wednesday 20 November with an event for fishery representatives and stakeholders, including the Hon Dave Kelly, Western Australia Minister for Water; Fisheries; Forestry; Innovation and ICT; Science.

“This achievement is testament to the forward-thinking leadership within the octopus fishery, Western Australian fishing industry, and government, through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). We applaud their joint commitment and collaboration to prove the sustainability credentials of the Western Australia octopus fishery and join the MSC’s global aspirations in transforming seafood markets to a more sustainable basis,” said Anne Gabriel, Program Director for the MSC in Oceania.

The Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) engaged independent auditing body SCS Global Services in 2018 to conduct the assessment on behalf of licence-holders. Through a site visit, interviews, consultations, review of documents and publications, and peer review, SCS Global Services found the fishery to be well managed with healthy stocks and harvest strategies in place.  

The fleet targets octopus (Octopus sp.), primarily using unique trigger trap technology developed in Western Australia and has less than 1% bycatch. Annual octopus catch in the fishery was 189 tonnes in 2017, and there is scope to sustainably fish towards 1,000 tonnes.

There are currently 32 licences and 26 vessels operating in the fishery, each with two to four fishers onboard, landing in various ports along the southern and western coasts of Western Australia.

“When a consumer buys from a retailer, or walks into a restaurant and sees Fremantle Octopus on the menu, they are confident that is sustainably sourced with known provenance,” said Glenn Wheeler, Managing Director of Fremantle Octopus. “Every package of Fremantle Octopus can be tracked in detail, from ocean to plate and meets rigorous MSC Chain of Custody requirements. Fremantle Octopus already tracks our packaged octopus back to the fishing vessel, the area of coastline that it was caught and both the dates that it was caught and packaged. The MSC certification will enhance the reputation of our business and the fishery, whilst increasing demand from our local and growing export markets.”

“MSC certification is international recognition of the sustainability of our unique pristine fishery and best practice fishing methodology,” said Dom O’Callaghan, Director of Abrolhos Octopus. “The MSC certification process is renowned for rigour and independence, which creates confidence and trust for all our clients, locally and internationally.”

Octopus becomes the twelfth species from an MSC certified fishery in Western Australia to gain the blue fish tick for sustainability, representing close to 90% of fisheries by value in the state. 

Australia-wide 20 fisheries are now certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard, representing 28 species of fish and shellfish.  
 
To date, more than 350 fisheries worldwide are certified, accounting for around 15% of the global marine wild catch. More than 1,600 improvements to fishing practices and environmental management have been made by MSC certified fisheries since 2000.

Fisheries are assessed by third party, independent auditors against the MSC Standard, which covers three core principles: fishery stock health, fishery impacts on marine environment, and management of the fishery. MSC certified fisheries are continually monitored and must complete annual surveillance audits, as well as being reassessed every five years. 

For media queries, please contact your nearest MSC representative
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