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Sustainable prawn fishery given the power to self manage waters

Primary Industries

The South Australia prawn fishery, renowned for its sustainable practices, has been granted the authority to manage its own industry in what is believed to be an Australian first.

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The Spencer Gulf and West Coast Prawn Fishermen’s Association (SGWCPFA) will now have the authority to sign off on the management plans and harvest strategies they develop – a power previously held by the South Australian Fisheries Minister.

The South Australian government’s decision puts the power back in the hands of the people managing the fishery and will allow industry to make real-time decisions while out on the water, based on ongoing research and annual monitoring.

This will create an integrated management model that will help to sustain the sector and maintain King Prawn stocks in the Spencer Gulf.

The Spencer Gulf King Prawn fishery received the prestigious Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in 2012. It is the first prawn fishery in the Asia Pacific, and the first King Prawn fishery in the world to gain the certification for sustainability.

The Spencer Gulf and West Coast Prawn Fishermen’s Association formed in 1968 and represents about 40 licensed prawn fishers.

Executive Officer Simon Clark said being delegated the responsibility for the real-time management of the fishery had taken decades of responsible management and relationship building.

“Many of the past and present members of the fishery can take credit for achieving the delegated outcome,” he said.

“It’s a privilege to be recognised as responsible managers by the minister and the public of South Australia in this, the 50th year of the fishery,

“The prawn fishery will continue to harvest with care in the clean environment of the Spencer Gulf, to deliver a high quality South Australian product that cares for the stock, environment and people working in and with the industry.”

Spencer Gulf King Prawns are proving popular in Northwest European countries including France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium. They are also exported to Hong Kong, Singapore and China.

The MSC certification recognises the fishery’s first-rate management practices, which include effort restrictions, closed fishing periods, closed areas and harvest strategies to regulate the total catch.

The MSC is an international non-profit organisation established to address the problem of unsustainable fishing and safeguard seafood supplies for the future.

The Spencer Gulf prawn trawling season runs from March to June and also includes a two-month period in November and December.

South Australian Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said it was the first time an Australian Fisheries Minister had delegated their powers to the people who also ran the fishing fleet out on the water.

“They have proven themselves time and time again during the past decade and as a result, we believe some of the decisions about the operation of the prawn industry are best left to the industry itself,” he said.

The Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery contributed more than $100 million to South Australia’s Gross State Product in 2015/16 and supported 763 full time jobs.

“They are among the best in the world, looking after our prawn stocks while at the same time ensuring we have access to these delicious creatures in our fish shops and restaurants,” Bignell said.

“These new arrangements will make it easier for industry to make real-time decisions while they’re out on the water, within the bounds of an agreed management plan.”

Earlier in the week the South Australian government reported that gross revenue from all seafood was valued at $908 million, with finished food valued at $501 million and overseas exports at $244 million.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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