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Austral Fisheries supplies Woolworths with 1,000 tonnes of Banana Prawns each year from Australia’s northern prawning region.

That’s a big order to fill, and one that Austral Fisheries CEO, David Carter, believes can only be done with a strong commitment to sustainability.

“Sustainability isn’t just about making sure our waters aren’t overfished, David said. “It’s about creating jobs in local communities and ensuring Australia’s food security well into the future.
“Our fishermen are encouraged to work smarter and look at getting better quality catches instead of the largest ones possible.

The Northern Prawn Fishery stretches from the tip of Cape York in Queensland to the Timor Sea off Western Australia’s north coast.

Austral operates 10 of the total of 52 trawlers in the region from April to June each year catching banana prawns. The prawns are caught in large nets and snap frozen within minutes of capture on the boat to ensure they get to the consumer in the freshest condition possible.

Austral fisheries have been trawling in the Northern Prawn Fishery since 1976, and in that time they’ve made a significant commitment to improving the health of the natural environment and marine life in the region.

That’s why Woolworths chose to support Austral Fisheries and the Northern Prawn Industry efforts to become Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified with a Fresh Food Future grant.
MSC certification ensures seafood comes from and can be traced back to a sustainable fishery.

Access to the Fresh Food Future program isn’t the only benefit the small business has reaped from working with Woolworths.

“Woolworths has extremely high quality assurance measures, David said. “By working to meet Woolworths’ traceability and quality standards we managed to improve the overall performance of our supply chain which has reduced waste and saved our business money.

“It also makes us a more attractive supplier for other businesses we work with.

Woolworths has moved away from using agents to source seafood and now focuses on direct relationships with their suppliers.

For Woolworths National Manager for Seafood Jason McQuaid, moving to direct deals was all about making the supply chain more efficient through greatly improved two way communication and understanding.

“At the end of the day, that means we can sell our products to the customer at a better price, Jason said.

“It also means Woolworths can have more input about what condition the stock is in when we get it.

“For example, we can tell a supplier what size carton we want them to put the stock in. It might seem like a little thing, but if you can get prawns from the supplier in the same box they arrive at the store in it cuts down on handling in the supply chain which reduces waste and costs.

Woolworths has a vested interest in making sure its suppliers are profitable, and remain that way.

“We try to deal with suppliers who are reputable and well established, Jason said.

“If our suppliers aren’t profitable they won’t be able to keep giving us the stock we need. That’s not good for anyone.

“That’s why investing in sustainability programs is important to us. We want to know that we have that direct supply line secured well into the future.

The Woolworths Fresh Food Future program is a collaboration between Landcare Australia and Woolworths to develop, improve and encourage sustainable farming practices across Australia.

Download a copy of Australia's Fresh Food Farmers case study booklet
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