Founder of West Australian-based Rare Foods Australia (ASX: RFA) Brad Adams has today been named Sustainable Fishing Hero in the prestigious and internationally recognised Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Sustainable Seafood Awards 2023.
The seventh annual awards celebrate forward-thinking individuals and companies placing the long-term health of our oceans and future supply of seafood at the heart of their business.
The awards coincide with Sustainable Seafood Week (27 March – 2 April) and are part of the Fish Forever campaign.
A third-generation fisherman and former veteran abalone diver, Mr Adams said he was humbled and honoured to be named the Sustainable Fishing Hero for 2023.
He said was also looking forward to the opportunities the award would offer to amplify Rare Foods Australia’s efforts in ensuring the future of a healthy fishery in WA’s pristine South-West.
Mr Adams started developing Rare Foods Australia’s globally unique artificial reefs for abalone while witnessing the decline of wild stocks and the introduction of tighter quotas in the Augusta region.
The result is Rare Foods Australia’s globally unique ABITATs, or abalone habitats, developed after seven years of experimentation and support from key partners.
Partners that have helped along this journey include the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), Curtin University, plus other research bodies, various other stakeholders and of course shareholders in the company.
This world-first innovation in the commercial production of wild abalone last year earned the company MSC accreditation as a sustainable fishery and use of the MSC’s internationally recognised and highly sought-after ‘MSC blue fish tick’ on its products.
The ‘sea ranching’ technique pioneered by Mr Adams and the team at Rare Foods Australia additionally gives RFA the competitive advantage of providing year-round supply to meet ever-growing market demand.
The technique involves hatchery-bred juvenile abalone being carefully placed onto the ABITATs which sit on the seabed of RFA’s ocean lease. The juveniles are left to grow naturally for several years until they reach a marketable size.
There are now 10,000 ABITATs, equivalent to 20km of reef, but covering only 2% of RFA’s 413ha lease area. Despite their light footprint, the ABITATs now produce more than 25% of the world’s wild and highly sought-after greenlip abalone. These reefs now form the world’s largest privately owned artificial reef and contribute to Rare Foods’ world-class factory and retail outlet being the largest employer in the town of Augusta.
Mr Adams, now Executive Director Corporate Development at Rare Foods Australia, said it was always his goal to maintain the viability of the abalone fishery while protecting the ocean environment he loves.
“I’m passionate about the ocean and marine life, and was concerned about the sustainability of wild stocks which I could see declining,” Mr Adams said.
“At the same time, as a commercial diver, I was concerned about quotas declining and wanted to replicate the natural environment for the greenlip abalone which are indigenous to the Augusta area.”
“We have created an amazing, complex ecosystem that adds to the diversity of the marine park. I love going diving and observing the wide variety of marine life that either visit the reef or call the reef home.”
Anne Gabriel, Programme Director, Oceania and Singapore at the Marine Stewardship Council commended Mr Adams on his win: “We are delighted to recognise Brad’s leadership, commitment and innovation in ensuring world class best practice in sustainability within his fishery – the first enhanced abalone fishery to be MSC certified in the world.
“By doing this – Brad has given domestic and international markets and consumers access to sourcing and choosing sustainable seafood. Congratulations!”
The MSC judging panel includes seafood and sustainability experts from within Australia and around the world.
About the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC):
The Marine Stewardship Council is an international non-profit on a mission to end overfishing and restore fish stocks for future generations.
The MSC’s vision is of the world’s oceans teeming with life and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations.
The MSC’s mission is to use its blue fish tick label and fishery certification program to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by recognising and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood and working with its partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis.
The Marine Stewardship Council was created in response to the growing threat of overfishing globally to help incentivise fisheries to become more sustainable.
Over one-third of fish stocks are estimated to be fished at unsustainable levels. With the global human population set to reach 10 billion by 2050, the need to harness our natural resources more responsibly is more urgent than ever. Billions of people worldwide depend on seafood for their livelihoods, and, for many, seafood is their primary protein source.
Sustainable fishing is vital in protecting our ocean and keeping our world fed. The MSC exists to ensure sustainable resource management for fisheries across the world.