Australia: First finfish gains MSC certification –

Australia: First finfish gains MSC certification Published:  20 April, 2006

A NEW delicacy, the Icefish, through Austral Fisheries, is the first finfish in Australia to gain certification by the leading international environmental NGO, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). From the freezing waters of Antarctica,the Mackerel Icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari), is not only a new delicacy for Australian tables but it is a sustainable one due to the certified, environmentally sound fishing practices adopted by Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd, responsible for bringing the species to Australia.

The “newcomer” was launched last week in Perth, Australia.

“Clearly, the availability in Australia of the Icefish, an excellent table fish popular in countries such as Russia, will come as good news to lovers of seafood across the country,” says Duncan Leadbitter Regional Director, Asia Pacific, of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). “Especially as it offers the best environmental choice in seafood purchase which is a growing concern among consumers.”

According to a recent survey by the Bureau of Rural Sciences (the Australian Federal Government’s main research arm) 40% of Australian consumers believe that commercial fishing is unsustainable. And 57% of those surveyed said a sustainability logo would influence their seafood purchase decisions.

Icefish addresses both of those concerns as it will bear the blue oval Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo, witnessing the fact that Icefish has been certified as sustainably harvested. A distinction only available to 300 products worldwide.

Austral Fisheries underwent an evaluation by an independent team of experts on behalf of the MSC who examined the status of the fish stock, the effect fishing has on the marine ecosystem and the effectiveness of the fishery’s management. This was measured against the rigorous, internationally recognised MSC Standard to validate the fishery’s sustainability and good management.

The Marine Stewardship Council is a worldwide body that recognises and promotes sustainable fishing practices. Only one other fishery has achieved this accreditation in Australia – the West Australian Rock Lobster. However Icefish is the very first fin fish to receive the endorsement in Australia.

The home of the Icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari), is the icy waters around Antarctica which have an average water temperature of 2 degrees Celsius (your fridge is about 4 degrees Celsius).The Icefish, rather than turn belly up thrives in the cold due to the production of a unique chemical within it’s body that works like anti-freeze.

Also noteworthy in the Icefish chemistry is the absence of red blood cells. Although this makes for a pale looking fish (with clear blood), it by no means reflects the delicious quality of the eating and is said to be similar in appearance to whiting. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.