Western Australian Sea Cucumber Fishery awarded certification of sustainability
The Western Australia Sea Cucumber fishery has been named the world’s first to be certified to the Marine Stewardship Council’s global standard for a well-managed and sustainable fishery.
The certification marks the beginning of a sustainable global sea cucumber market, with the strong management of the Western Australian Sea Cucumber fishery setting itself apart from the global concerns surrounding the overfishing of sea cucumber.
The fishery operates off the Western Australia coastline and catches two species of sea cucumber, the deep-water redfish (Actinopyga echinites) and sand fish (Holothuria scabra). The majority of sea cucumber exports are sent to mainland China and sold, typically as a dried product known as bêche de mer.
Patrick Caleo, Asia Pacific Director of the Marine Stewardship Council, said:
“Congratulations to the Western Australia Sea Cucumber fishery for leading the way with this world-first certification. The vision and leadership shown in achieving this certification will inspire others to follow, representing a big win for the future of sea cucumber more broadly. The use of the MSC blue fish tick on sea cucumber products will be another big step in transforming the global sea cucumber market to a sustainable basis.”
Over 1,400 species of sea cucumber are said to exist with at least seventy of these being commercially exploited in what is now a multi-billion-dollar trade. In some parts of the world, the high demand and price of sea cucumber have led to increasing levels of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, a thriving illegal market trade and diminishing sea cucumber populations due to overfishing.
Speaking about the MSC certification of the Western Australian sea cucumber fishery, Mark Webster, CEO for Tasmanian Seafoods, said:
“There’s a growing concern amongst consumers with sustainability and the environment. We wanted to prove that despite global concern with populations of sea cucumber, Australian sea cucumber fisheries are sustainable and well managed. We plan to work with stakeholders to achieve MSC certification for all of Australia’s sea cucumber fisheries.”
The highly prized sea cucumber has ‘ocean cleaning’ properties which make protecting it vital for maintaining good ocean health.