With a potential shortage of fresh seafood stocks due to wild seas over the Easter period, The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is encouraging Aussie consumers to commit to choosing sustainably sourced seafood when shopping or eating at restaurants.
Easter is the second highest consumption period for seafood after Christmas, with approximately 400 tonnes sold in Australia each year. It is a critical time of year for Australian fisheries and aquaculture, that now accounts for just over $3 billion towards Australia’s GDP and employs more than 13,000 Australians.
MSC Oceania Program Director, Anne Gabriel, says that with the demand for seafood continuing to increase, it is important for large businesses to source sustainably to ensure the longevity of fish stocks in future. Organisations such as Coles, IKEA and John West Simplot Australia are leading the way in opting for sustainable seafood.
“The combination of population growth and increasing demand for fish in many areas of the world is spiking a rise in seafood consumption, but we can decrease impact on oceans and marine life while maintaining healthy fish populations for generations to come through international, science based third party certification programs, such as the MSC,” said Ms Gabriel.
Australia has been globally acknowledged for its management of fisheries, world class in innovation and foresight with over 27 of its fisheries as being MSC certified covering a total of 22 of species.
“It is imperative to be mindful of the socioeconomic importance of fisheries to nations and communities both as a source of income in sustaining livelihoods and to secure continuous provision of seafood to eradicate poverty and ensure food security, respectively,” continued Ms Gabriel.
Australia also has the third largest marine jurisdiction in the world containing vital natural and biological resources, making the role of consumers instrumental in the positive uptake of sustainable seafood.
“One such commendable initiative is by Coles who has released the company’s very first television commercial promoting their delicious and wide array of sustainable seafood through the blue MSC label of trust in their wet fish counters,” said Ms Gabriel.
“The momentum comes after Coles was awarded the MSC Wave of Change Award for their tangible commitment as the first supermarket in the country to undertake chain of custody certification for their 700 deli seafood counters.”
Heidi Walker, co-owner Walker Seafoods, the only MSC certified tuna fishery in Australia, says, “As Australian fishers, our goal is to ensure the long-term viability of our fishery, we work closely with AFMA as well as CSIRO and Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) scientists. Our vessels and operators have been credited for assisting tagging studies for both Tuna and Swordfish and we pride ourselves on being the first choice by CSIRO for all scientific studies and projects.”
In its recently held Sustainable Seafood Week (March 12 – 18) in Australia, MSC exposed consumers to their own important role in making the right choices through promotional and educational events about the impact of overfishing on native wildlife, run by leading brands and organizations such as Taronga Zoo.
Ms Gabriel says Australia has been a trailblazer in fisheries certification with the world’s first certified fishery being the Western Rock Lobster in Western Australia, which contributes more than half a billion dollars to the state economy while generating more than 2,400 employment opportunities in the state.
“We aspire to work closely with leading market players across supermarkets, brands, restaurants, food service operators, suppliers, the health sector, hospitality industry, and shipping and airlines industry to get them to fulfil their respective sustainable seafood sourcing goals.”