Every year, MSC Oceania runs the Australia-wide Sustainable Seafood Day. In 2015, the team took to the sea, the streets and social media with their #ForTheSea hashtag and the help of advocates from all walks of life. Explorers, researchers, health practitioners, athletes joined to celebrate how choosing sustainable seafood can help keep our oceans healthy. One of these ‘Ocean Ambassadors’ is pro surfer and artist Felicity “Flick” Palmateer, who has also been involved in June’s World Oceans Day. The Oceania team caught with her to talk about her involvement and her love of the ocean.
The first things that struck me when I started working at the MSC were the level of knowledge and the sheer breadth of the organisation. Realising the scale of the whole seafood industry has been an eye-opener too. I’ve since come to understand why the MSC needs to be like this – big in scale and rich in knowledge – in order to provide a workable sustainable solution for the fish we put on our plates.
Something I didn’t know before starting work here was that seafood remains the number one traded food commodity globally, at a value of over US$130 billion in 2013 – more than tea, coffee and sugar combined. This fact, along with the hundreds of different species, fisheries, methods, nations, makes the sustainability of fish – and the way to measure that – an extremely difficult task.
Krill, a tiny shrimp-like creature commonly used in fish oil supplements due to its high ‘Omega 3’ oil content, has been the subject of considerable discussion in environmental circles. I’ve talked before about why there won’t be a sudden expansion of the krill fishery and today I’d like to address a different issue: is krill fishing harming penguin populations? The suggestion that krill fishing is damaging krill and penguin populations in the Antarctic should be taken very seriously and is a topic I feel it is important to address.
Prince Charles’ letters, released yesterday, refer to the need to protect Patagonian toothfish. But what is so important about this creature and how have things changed since Prince Charles wrote of its plight to the then environment minister in October 2004?
Patagonian toothfish, also known as Chilean sea bass, lives in the cold waters of the Atlantic and sub-Antarctic. This slow growing fish generally lives for up to 24 years and grows to over two meters in length. It’s a species of huge ecological importance, but also supports fishing communities throughout Southern America and the Antarctic islands who fish it commercially for markets in USA, EU and Japan.
In March 2000, Western Australia rock lobster became the first MSC certified fishery in the world. 15 years later, the fishery is thriving and continues to manage its stocks sustainably.
Collaboration and a belief in the ‘long game’ have helped make Western Australia rock lobster a true sustainable success story. As well as meeting all the conditions of MSC certification, the fishery has worked in close consultation with the Government of Western Australia’s Department of Fisheries.
Operating with strict quotas, seasonal closures, minimum size requirements and a ban on catching breeding females has ensured the ongoing livelihoods of the lobster fishers.