WA Abalone Fishery achieve world first certification

The Western Australia Abalone Fishery have achieved a world first, receiving an International Sustainability Certification yesterday following a year long independent audit.

Abalone is now the ninth fishery in the state to obtain the Marine Stewardship Council fishery standard accreditation, joining just 14 per cent of the world’s seafood production.

In a ceremony held at the Esperance Bay Yacht Club to celebrate the official certification, Fisheries minister Dave Kelly said it was a big day for the Abalone industry.

“As a government, we want to be able to promote product from Western Australia as being clean and green because that’s a positive that can differentiate us from other markets and products around the world,” he said.

“Now that we’ve got the ninth fishery to receive that sustainability tick, it’s just fantastic.”

Mr Kelly said the certification would help make the produce more appealing both locally and overseas.

“It allows the fishers to say that what they do is sustainable and, in Australia, people are always concerned that we are looking after our environment so the tick is good domestically,” he said.

“Internationally, more and more consumers are saying that they want products that they know are harvested in a way that cares for the planet.

“More and more fisheries around the world are looking for it and so, inevitably, I believe it will increase our markets and open doors to markets elsewhere around the world.”

Abalone Industry Association of Western Australia chairman Peter Rickerby said attaining the certification went far beyond sustainability.

“It’s really about stewardship of your resource and it also gives assurance to our consumers that we have the right harvest strategies in place and to make the best management decisions to ensure a sustainable fishery,” he said. 

“The certification for abalone is a world first and we are in the drivers seat to take advantage of the new and exciting opportunities that exist in the global market place.”

In terms of altering profits, Mr Kelly said it was difficult to say whether the certification would make a difference to profit in the industry.

“Seafood prices go up and down, but if you look at what has happened with Western Rock Lobster, the first to be certified, it’s doing extremely well now and part of that I’m sure is the fact that globally you can say that it’s a sustainable seafood,” he said.

“If you want to market your products overseas, if you want to differentiate yourself from your competition, being able to say it was harvested sustainably is a positive.

“In a lot of places around the world, the abalone fisheries have been treated very poorly and we can say that we know that this fishery is being harvested sustainably.”

Shire president Victoria Brown said the certificate was of immense importance, not only for the Esperance region but for our entire Western Australian state.

“It’s going to open up some new markets and exciting new doors and I would like to wish every success for the abalone industry in Western Australia.”

“Go out there, get this beautiful product and let’s see it go right the way around the world, which is where it deserves to be.”