Feature story

All Australia’s Antarctic fisheries now sustainably certified

Heard Island and McDonald Islands and Macquarie Island toothfish fisheries have been certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council in an independent assessment against rigorous standards, marking a significant achievement for Australia’s sub-Antarctic fisheries.

All target species in Australia’s sub-Antarctic fisheries have now received Marine Stewardship Council certification as sustainable and well-managed fisheries after the 2006 certification of Mackerel Icefish in the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Fishery.

The Marine Stewardship Council assessments show that fish stocks are healthy, that fishing practices are having a minimal impact on the marine ecosystem and that overall the fishery is well-managed.

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority are responsible for the management of Australia’s Antarctic fisheries and work closely with the fishing industry to develop sustainable management arrangements.

AFMA CEO Dr James Findlay congratulated the industry members on their achievement.

“This is a significant accomplishment as the MSC process is a rigorous one and the operators involved have put significant work into achieving accreditation”, Dr Findlay said.

“The certification also recognises the best practice management arrangements the authority and industry have in place in these fisheries.”

Management of Australia’s sub-Antarctic fisheries involves a close collaboration with industry, environmental groups and other government agencies, particularly the Australian Antarctic Division and CSIRO.

The Macquarie Island environment is unique and Australian management of fishing in this area is world-leading. Each vessel fishing off Macquarie Island carries two scientific observers to collect data and ensure fishing operations do not damage the environment.

The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has given both fisheries the highest accreditation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

All product from these fisheries can now be marketed using the Marine Stewardship Council ‘blue tick’ logo.

The view from a fishing vessel operating in the sub-Antarctic region. Marine Stewardship Council Certification has now been given to all target species in Australia’s sub-Antarctic fisheries.