Western Australia octopus fishery achieves certification against the MSC Fisheries Standard for sustainability. (Photo: Abrolhos Octopus)
Western Australia Octopus Earns the Blue Fish Tick for Sustainability
The Western Australia octopus fishery has become the first octopus fishery in the southern hemisphere to be certified to the internationally recognised Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable fishing.
Fishing licence-holders involved in this landmark certification celebrated this achievement in Fremantle, Western Australia on Wednesday 20 November with an event for fishery representatives and stakeholders, including the Hon Dave Kelly, Western Australia Minister for Water; Fisheries; Forestry; Innovation and ICT; Science.
First octopus fishery in the southern hemisphere to achieve MSC certificate. (Photo: Fremantle Octopus)
“This achievement is testament to the forward-thinking leadership within the octopus fishery, Western Australian fishing industry, and government, through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). We applaud their joint commitment and collaboration to prove the sustainability credentials of the Western Australia octopus fishery and join the MSC’s global aspirations in transforming seafood markets to a more sustainable basis,” said Anne Gabriel, Program Director for the MSC in Oceania.
Abrolhos Octopus runs its very own fleet of newly fitted, high tech, twin-engined fishing vessels, skippered by some of the best and most experienced fishermen in Western Australia. (Photo: Abrolhos Octopus)
The Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) engaged independent auditing body SCS Global Services in 2018 to conduct the assessment on behalf of licence-holders. Through a site visit, interviews, consultations, review of documents and publications, and peer review, SCS Global Services found the fishery to be well managed with healthy stocks and harvest strategies in place.
The fleet targets octopus (Octopus sp.), primarily using unique trigger trap technology developed in Western Australia and has less than 1% bycatch. Annual octopus catch in the fishery was 189 tonnes in 2017, and there is scope to sustainably fish towards 1,000 tonnes.
Just a few metres from the edge of the fishing harbour in Geraldton, Abrolhos Octopus has recently acquired and refitted the largest dedicated processing facility of its kind in Australia.
There are currently 32 licences and 26 vessels operating in the fishery, each with two to four fishers onboard, landing in various ports along the southern and western coasts of Western Australia.
“When a consumer buys from a retailer, or walks into a restaurant and sees Fremantle Octopus on the menu, they are confident that is sustainably sourced with known provenance,” said Glenn Wheeler, Managing Director of Fremantle Octopus. “Every package of Fremantle Octopus can be tracked in detail, from ocean to plate and meets rigorous MSC Chain of Custody requirements. Fremantle Octopus already tracks our packaged octopus back to the fishing vessel, the area of coastline that it was caught and both the dates that it was caught and packaged. The MSC certification will enhance the reputation of our business and the fishery, whilst increasing demand from our local and growing export markets.”
Exported across the world, Fremantle Octopus comes from the clear, clean blue waters off the Western Australia’s coast. (Photo: Fremantle Octopus)
“MSC certification is international recognition of the sustainability of our unique pristine fishery and best practice fishing methodology,” said Dom O’Callaghan, Director of Abrolhos Octopus. “The MSC certification process is renowned for rigour and independence, which creates confidence and trust for all our clients, locally and internationally.”
Octopus becomes the twelfth species from an MSC certified fishery in Western Australia to gain the blue fish tick for sustainability, representing close to 90% of fisheries by value in the state.
To ensure the highest standards of quality, freshness and taste, the catch from the Abrolhos Islands is prepared, packed and frozen just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge at Abrolhos Octopus' newly completed premises. (Photo: Abrolhos Octopus)
Australia-wide 20 fisheries are now certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard, representing 28 species of fish and shellfish.
To date, more than 350 fisheries worldwide are certified, accounting for around 15% of the global marine wild catch. More than 1,600 improvements to fishing practices and environmental management have been made by MSC certified fisheries since 2000.
Fisheries are assessed by third party, independent auditors against the MSC Standard, which covers three core principles: fishery stock health, fishery impacts on marine environment, and management of the fishery. MSC certified fisheries are continually monitored and must complete annual surveillance audits, as well as being reassessed every five years.
About Abrolhos Octopus
Based in the small fishing town of Geraldton, over 400kms north of Perth, Abrolhos Octopus is the only large scale vertically integrated octopus fishing company in Australia. Since beginning fishing in 2018, Abrolhos Octopus has quickly gained attention and appreciation from chefs around Australia and the world. That’s because the company has its own licences, and its very own fleet of newly fitted, high tech, twin-engined fishing vessels, giving a range from shallow coastal areas to 80kms offshore around the Abrolhos Islands.
Once caught, the catch is delivered to the own state-of-the-art processing facilities on the harbour’s edge, allowing complete control from start to finish. The time between being caught and processed is kept to a minimum, ensuring the quality of the octopus is always at the highest standard. Once packed, the ocean’s freshest and finest tasting octopus is ready to be shipped the world over.
About Fremantle Octopus
Considered to be the best octopus in the world, Fremantle Octopus was founded in 2000 and specialises in octopus fishing and the manufacture of processed raw and value added octopus products for sale in both the Australian and Overseas markets.
The species of octopus ( O’tetricus ) found off the Western Australian coast is considered to be one of the best species of octopus in the world due to the quality and colour of its flesh when processed, its tenderness and flesh structure, its high quality diet as well as its generous size.
The company has not only created a sustainable octopus fishing industry in Western Australia where none previously existed, it has also built a thriving manufacturing operation that has a world reputation for high quality seafood products. All this whilst maintaining a sustainable fishery policy.