FIA MSC LOBSTER
A FIRST PNG AND PACIFIC MSC SMALL-SCALE CERTIFIED FISHERY: TORRES STRAIT ROCK LOBSTER
Ornate Spiny Lobster ( Panulirus Ornatus)
The prawn and lobster fisheries in the Torres Strait Protected Zone are being co-managed with Australia under the Torres Strait Treaty Arrangements. The management is aimed at preserving the fishery for the traditional inhabitants, with a strictly limited entry for non-inhabitants. The extracted or harvested products were mainly exported to Asia and even sold domestically.
The lobster fishery currently involves more than five hundred divers, and two processors annually and generates an annual estimated average of about 90 mt, this is a typical PNG inshore fishery. Products are mainly exported to China, Hong Kong, and Australian markets.
The NFA PNG FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLAN
The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) was established in 1995 under the provision of the Fisheries Management Act, and in 2001 was mandated to manage Papua New Guinea’s fisheries resources. Provincial governments maintain a degree of control over fisheries through the ability to write their own fisheries acts, but only if they do not conflict with the Fisheries Management Act (Kuk and Tioti 2012).
Fisheries management objectives are centered on promoting long-term sustainable development of marine resources, through balancing economic and ecological objectives (FAO 2010). The NFA implements six fisheries management plans, including those for tuna, bêche-de-mer, lobster, prawn, and barramundi fisheries, with another two for live reef fish and aquarium fish which are still in draft form. Specific measures such as license restrictions,
size limits, closed seasons, and total allowable catch are stipulated for these commercial fisheries. The NFA is further responsible for collecting fisheries data, conducting commercial fish stock assessments and research, and managing the processing and export of fish products (FAO 2010; Carleton et al. 2013).
This Torres Strait Rock Lobster is a fishery largely village-based industry and with a commercial lobster fishery that has a fleet licensed to operate in the Western Province.
JOURNEY TO SUSTAINABILITY
In 2021, initially, The Torres Strait Rock lobster fishery was engaged in a SeafoodMAP assessment based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries which provides a step-by-step approach to enhance reporting, awareness and a general improvement in the fishery management practices To achieve the MSC certification, with the Initial SeafoodMAP assessment and boost of participation among divers, fishermen and exporters, by engaging local government agencies to improve policy, and by providing financial support for the MSC certification.
In March 2023, FIA PNG Torres Strait Rocky Lobster fishery and the NFA fishery management were assessed against 28 indicators of MSC fishery standards. MSC has published the assessment report as the first step to eventual MSC certification.
With support from NFA and FIA PNG, the Fishery achieved several important goals at this stage, including:
Conducting the full MSC certification process with only 4 conditions against principle # 1 and principle # 3
Establishing a Technical Working Group with representatives of Lobster Processors, divers, and National Fisheries Authority representatives
Preparing the Client Action Plan for the coming 5 years of the certification
Agreed on implementing the Responsible Sourcing Policy RSP pillars to scale as it has been done with the FIA PNG tuna fleet.
Starting an electronic monitoring and traceability system by the NFA
Improving the lobster harvest strategy, a fishery management plan, and procedures to
review the performance of the lobster fishery management.
THE UNIQUENESS AND BEAUTY OF THE LOBSTER FISHERY
A STORY TO TELL
The Torres Strait Rock Lobster Fishery is a small-scale fishery that the main gear is: free diving and hookah for harvesting one by one without affecting the ecosystem and any other species.
Diver dedicates their lives to harvesting lobster in this manner and it is a practice and tradition that passes from generation to generation.
We invite our stakeholders to support this unique lobster, sourcing from PNG MSC-certified TSR Lobster.