Banksia Awards

Banksia Awards
November 06, 2017

Last week we were lucky enough to have been awarded the 2017 Banksia Foundation Small to Medium Business Sustainability Leadership Award against a very strong field, full of people doing such wonderful things. We are proud to be working with our climate partner, Carbon Neutral, on this journey. Thanks also to Millstream Productions for putting this little video together for us!

Austral Fisheries is not your “every-day” kind of business.

We produce about 10% of every prawn sold by Coles and Woolworths in Australia.

We produce about 10% of every portion of Patagonian toothfish sold in the World.

We do this from two of the most remote fisheries in the world – one in the tropics, the other in the sub-Antarctic.

But we’ve had to fight pirates; create a global “Wanted” campaign; work hand-in-hand with conservation groups; collaborate with our direct competitors; and work with so many others to transform toothfish fisheries. We also had to support removal of nearly 250 boats from the prawn fishery; revise management approaches; and change fishing practices with our entire industry.

The result? We now produce prawns and fish from two of the most sustainable fisheries in the World, under management and policies of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, along with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the Department of Environment, and the Australian Antarctic Division.

You don’t have to believe our lofty claims of ‘sustainability’, because they are independently verified by the international Marine Stewardship Council, who have certified those fisheries as ‘well managed and sustainable’. That’s how we demonstrate we’re a ‘sustainable seafood’ company.

But, to catch those fish and prawns, we use over 9 million litres of diesel. Plus, we use bait from the other side of the world, and we send our products by road, sea, and air, across the globe.

So, while we’re sustainable for our fisheries, we decided to go further, take the lead, and do our bit for the planet, by offsetting all of our greenhouse gas emissions!

We became certified carbon neutral for both our products and our organisation, under the Australian Government National Carbon Offset Standard, achieved by purchasing Gold Standard forestry offsets. The forestry project that we support is managed by the 2016 Banksia Awards ‘Natural Capital’ category winner, Carbon Neutral Pty Ltd, and our investment supports the native revegetation of degraded farmland in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor.

We have 100% offset our greenhouse gas emissions from every aspect of our business, and the products we sell. That’s a World first in the seafood industry.

That includes offsetting greenhouse gas emissions involved with catching our bait, building our boats, running our business on shore, as well as catching and distributing our fish and prawns in Australia and globally. We even offset the greenhouse gas emissions created by chefs in restaurants as they cook our products, and serve them to the diner!

We believe in the power of business to make a difference; we believe in the power of conversations to effect broader understanding, and to drive change; and, we believe in the power of collaboration. All of that is why we work so closely with governments, conservation groups, industry peers and competitors, scientists, academics, and policy makers.

With collaboration, we believe we can all make a difference. Because we can make better choices if we are better informed, and our products and brands allow us to deliver critical information to chefs and foodies, to supermarket buyers, and to our customers and consumers, in a way that is relevant and meaningful.

In 1997, we were the first company in the world to join with WWF and Unilever and sign up to their concept of the Marine Stewardship Council, to use market mechanisms to drive better global fisheries management outcomes. At the time we were told by our peers that we were crazy to be working with conservation groups; and that we’d never recover the costs of doing business in a sustainable management framework. Twenty years on; third party certification is a prerequisite for business transactions, and independent verification has become a cornerstone of seafood businesses, globally.

In 2016, when we announced we were carbon neutral, our peers were wary and stakeholders suspicious. Many asked ‘why bother?’ – but we had a desire to do something more, and a firm belief that, through bold action, we could find a way to grow our premium brands; inspire our staff, crew, suppliers, and customers; show climate leadership; and continue to make sustainability pay. We also believe that progressive business, in collaboration with a well-informed consumer, can effect change on a scale and at a speed not possible any other way.

We believe our actions can form a catalyst for the seafood industry in Australia and globally, to consider their impacts on the marine environment, and take action to reduce them.

And we believe that society will recognise that greenhouse gas emissions are a problem for our planet, and take action by supporting those who are prepared to ‘Be Bold’.

Oh, and we make a profit, too.