Fisheries Research Articles

Adopting Marine Stewardship Council certification of Western Australian fisheries at a jurisdictional level: the benefits and challenges

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Fisheries Research




Third party certification; Marine Stewardship Council; Risk assessment; Multispecies fisheries; Data-limited fisheries; Social-license; Bioregional approach; EBFM


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Marine Biology


In 2012, the Western Australian (WA) State Government initiated a four year project to provide the state’s fisheries the opportunity to obtain third party certification. The Government was seeking a range of benefits from this initiative such as scientifically robust, independent assessments of fisheries sustainability and management and improved community support for commercial fishing. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) was selected as the preferred certification scheme due to its rigorous approach and strong market acceptance. The project commenced with the pre-assessment of the state’s commercial fisheries (∼50 fisheries) using an ecosystem based fishery management-bioregional approach to encompass the wide variety of species, gears and locations around the state. Given the number and variety of fisheries examined the pre-assessments were conducted using a bioregional approach, with multiple fisheries assessed in each of five marine bioregions. Applying the MSC standard to such a diverse range of fisheries, many of which are small scale, data limited, multispecies or multisector, presented several challenges. However, the bioregional approach enabled the identification of common issues and focussed attention on possible refinements to the MSC scoring guidelines for these types of fisheries. Despite the challenges, this initiative has already generated improvements to governance, consultation and assessment processes. It is anticipated that as the number of certified fisheries in WA increases, public confidence and the social licence for commercial fishing operations will be enhanced, enabling their ongoing access to these public resources.



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)