Mark Eather & Shannon Bennett Response to the “What’s The Catch?” SBS Program

02/11/2014

Subsequent to this program airing last Thursday night, some of my clients have experienced ill-informed diners demanding to know if the establishment has MSC Certification. This prompted the following statement being made by Shannon and I. For your further information, I have provided links of relevance to MSC certification and its dubious nature below.

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Hi all,
As you might be aware, an SBS program debuted Thursday night entitled “What’s the Catch?”.
While both Mark and I agree that bringing attention to the issue of sustainable fishing methods is crucial, there are some flaws with much of the content in this series.

This email is designed just for education purposes, there is nothing political here and nothing to gain, we just need people to be more informed and make better choices.

This is our joint statement:
Let us start by saying that we commend both SBS and host Matthew Evans for bringing attention to the plight that Mark has lobbied so hard for, over the past 25 years, and we applaud their intent.
That said, we do have problems with many different parts of this program but of major concern is the championing of the MSC Certification and of a restaurateur that has this dubious certification – leading the national audience to believe that this was ‘world’s best practice’.
MSC Certification in our opinion is a bureaucratic con, that goes not even 10% to achieving genuine sustainability. Yes, it is an improvement, but not enough. Four years ago, Mark refused to be involved with MSC Certification, telling them that their criteria for sustainability is a farce – the techniques that they approve and endorse are still destroying our oceans and the industry.
It gives its ‘MSC Certification tick’ to operators that have improved from being TOTAL ARMAGEDDON to the fishery and environs to being just ‘TOTAL DEVASTATION’.
You can clearly see in the footage that Matthew and SBS obtained, that sickening level of by-catch. But that is when Matthew and SBS were on-board and the operators are obviously minimising their impact on by-catch by their mode of operation that night.
It is even more horrific in reality, which we have actual footage of and you will all see over the ensuing weeks – the ‘MSC Certified Vessels’ by-catch is quite often over 70% of the total catch! And there are 50 vessels doing exactly the same thing in the gulf, at the same time. One can only wonder how much fish there would be if practices like this were outlawed – along with all trawling, dredging and mass long lining.
We know how to trap prawns, which IS sustainable BUT that will mean the average punter having to be prepared to pay more for the luxury of sustainably-caught prawns and they should be a luxury – just like truffles, or a Ferrari.
Our seafood is caught with ZERO by-catch, utilising world’s best practices, with Mark factually and practically fighting this battle for over 25 years now.
Instead of asking for ‘MSC Certification’ ask for that level of detail from your ‘Sustainable’ seafood outlet or restaurant, and we will get somewhere towards a sustainable industry.
We will provide further comment on this at a later stage but thought it was important to share this information for now. In the meantime, here is an article I wrote for Munchies of VICE Magazine about sustainable seafood & my
relationship with Mark.
https://munchies.vice.com/articles/we-need-to-rethink-our-approach-to-seafood-altogether
With thanks,
Shannon Bennett, Director Vue de monde and Mark W Eather

LINKS:

Here’s a brief list of articles with a content summary as to what each is about. Hopefully they will be of use to you or at least be at-the-ready should you need something.

Sustainable fish customers ‘duped’ by Marine Stewardship Council.  The body which certifies that fish have been caught sustainably has been accused of “duping” consumers by giving its eco-label to fisheries where stocks are tumbling.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jan/06/fish-marine-stewardship-council

 MSC Sustainable accreditation considered for shark finning.“In what has already been branded a highly controversial move, Western Australia’s Fisheries Minister Norman Moore has announced he is seeking ‘sustainable’ certification for shark fins which regional fishermen wish to export to Asia. The situation raises the question why MSC would even choose to consider the option and in turn, why it would even be a possibility to seek this type of certification for the killing of species that are known around the world for being so heavily threatened.“http://www.theblackfish.org/news/sustainable-shark-finning.html

 Collapsed Herring Fishery certified as sustainable by MSC. “A herring fishery has been declared sustainable despite catches being at the same low level as when it collapsed from overfishing”

http://fish2fork.com/en_GB/news/news/collapsed-herring-fishery-certified-as-sustainable

Seafish Tasmania, the company that owns the Supertrawler Margiris, is undergoing assessment for MSC accreditation. Wait. What? http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/supertrawler-abel-tasman-may-rise-again-as-seafish-tasmania-starts-fishery-assessment/story-fnj4f7k1-1227086936104

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