Western Australia’s peak environment and sustainability group the Conservation Council of WA today called on the Department of Fisheries to open the books if it is to win community support for sustainability certification of WA’s fisheries.
“The decision to put WA’s fisheries through third party scrutiny is welcomed but the Department’s secretive culture must change for the community to have confidence in the results,” said CCWA Marine Coordinator Tim Nicol.
The State Government today announced that they would bring in international third party sustainable fisheries certification body Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to examine the state’s fisheries. The MSC process requires community consultation. The quality and openness of that process will determine if the final certification result is accepted by the public.
However, a certification advisory panel comprising of only fishing interest groups and the Department of Fisheries is set to be established to oversee the certification. Other stakeholders who wish to be involved would need to participate in a forum overseen by the commercial fishing lobby.
“The lack of a conservation representative, or any other marine user representatives, on the certification advisory panel is not a good start in terms of a transparent certification process,” said Mr Nicol.
“We are worried that, despite entering into this arrangement with MSC, the Department of Fisheries will continue to give lip service to conservation concerns raised by the community and scientists, such as sea lion deaths in gillnets and dolphin deaths in the Pilbara trawl. We look forward to the Department finally addressing these problems.
“Certification needs to be about improving the performance of our fisheries and the relationship with the community, not just trying to get a tick for business as usual.
“When the spotlight was shone into the Australian Fisheries Management Authority in Federal Parliament last week it didn’t take long for serious cracks to emerge, the Department of Fisheries needs to open itself to that same scrutiny if certification is to be broadly accepted by the community.
“Transparency is not a threat if there is nothing to hide.”
Media: Tim Nicol, 0422 235 774