70% of the Seafood You’re Eating in Australia is Imported – Here’s What We Can Do
If you haven’t guessed it by now you would know how extremely passionate I am about sourcing and eating local, ethical and sustainable produce. Local fruit and vegetables, local meats and local seafood. We can achieve eating this by knowing where to shop and by asking questions.
Supporting our farmers at the farmers markets or buying direct from the farmer is one way to shop to be able to consume ethical and local produce. You can also achieve this by buying into a local community supportive agriculture system (CSA local produce box), growing your own food or buying from your butcher or local fisherman who can tell you exactly what you are buying and where it is from.
However, where I become disappointed, angry and disheartened is when I go to buy fresh produce and there is no clear labelling on where that produce is from or even how it was grown. I want to be able to ask the butcher, the shop keeper and the waiter at the restaurant if the food I am about to eat or buy is local. I want to feel connected with the food I buy and with the farmer who grew it. I feel we have a right to know. Don’t you?
Within Australia we are starting to see changes in the labelling of fruit and vegetables. However we still have a long way to go with meat and seafood and it wasn’t until I watched the SBS program ‘What’s the Catch’ which was presented by Matthew Evans, I stood up and took notice of what is really happening in the seafood industry here in Australia and why I feel the need to write this post to help support seafood labelling.
According to Matthew Evans, 70% of seafood sold in Australia is imported. And the seafood that you thought was flathead sitting on your plate in front of you at the restaurant can actually be sold as something else. It does not even need to be labelled as ‘flathead’ it can simply be called ‘fish’.
Matthew is currently lobbying the government to bring in new laws to legislate changes to seafood labelling so we as consumers know exactly where our seafood comes from and what species of seafood is actually on our plate. Matthew Evans has worked tirelessly with a senate committee to encourage people to look into seafood labelling. The senate committee recommended country of origin labelling to be extended to all seafood sold in Australia. The senate commitee also recommend that fisherman (who were excited about the potential new regulations) would be required to sort, label and record their catch accurately. This was all for the consumer, so you and I knew where our food came from and what we were actually consuming.
The labelling will encourage restaurants, cafe’s, takeaway shops and bistro’s to be transparent and truthful and tell us exactly what type of fish we are ordering and where in Australia that fish is from. Matthew has spent many months fighting for the introduction of new labelling laws. He has travelled Australia talking to and hearing stories from local fisherman about misrepresented and mislabeled products.
He was able to get the Federal Senate to consider current labelling and asked for their help to change those labelling laws. Unfortunately the Federal Senate did not think it important enough for consumers to know if the seafood they are eating is local, ethical and sustainable. The Senate has decided not to implement the proposed amendments, but to keep the current uninformative labelling in place. This is a joke right!?
How can our Senators, both from political parties, not realise the consequence of ensuring imported fish is labeled correctly before it is sold to customers? How can they not think it is important to bring in regulations so that consumers can feel confident when dining out eating seafood or buying it from a local takeaway shop. With 70% of fish sold in Australia imported and misleadingly labeled at point of sale, how can this not be taken serious?
So what does this mean?
It means that when you buy sushi, or buy takeaway fish from a fish punt or even sit in a restaurant and order seafood, you have no way of telling whether the seafood your eating has come from Australia, whether it is even local or worst still is actually what they called it is on the menu.
Wherever I purchase my fish I want to now exactly what it is, where it was caught and when it was caught. I don’t want to read on a menu that I am eating ‘fish’, I want to know exactly what I am putting into my mouth.
Not knowing where your food comes from is not only bad for the consumer (and potentially your health) it is also bad for the environment and for the farmers and local and responsible fishers who do the right thing.
How can you help?
Buy local and sustainable seafood. Question your fishmonger. Where was the fish caught and is the fish as claimed i.e. Is it Pink Ling or Blue Eye. Never ever buy imported prawns. Watch ‘What’s the catch’ to find out why.
Definition of local and sustainable seafood:
Local and sustainable seafood is fish or shellfish which reaches our dinner plates with minimal impact upon fish populations or the wider marine environment.
It is with the understanding that the way fish are caught, the impact on the seafloor and other marine wildlife is done in a healthy and natural way to help protect the marine eco-systems.
How do you achieve this?
1. Buy from local and responsible fishers. Head here to download the sustainable fishing guide app
2. If you fish, only take what you need and fish responsibly. Over fishing is not the answer.
3. Ask for wild caught or line caught fish at the checkout. Ask if it is local and whether it is a deep sea and slow growing or long-lived species. Don’t be shy in asking the questions. If you cannot receive an answer that you’re happy with walk away.
4. Try to avoid buying any species of fish known to be in ecological crisis – see list below
5. Try to avoid any species of fish caught using methods which harm the marine environment – see list below
6. Eat more shellfish
7. Look hard for food labelling signs on tinned fish at your local supermarket which can give you genuine commitment in the way the fish has been caught and or farmed.
8. The most destructive fishing technique is trawling and dredging. Both of these methods drag heavy gear along the bottom of the sea, which disturbs and destroys the seabed. Over fishing is also a burden on ocean inhabitants. So by you and I asking for line, wild caught and local fish we can help to keep fish levels stocks relatively high without jeopardising the ecosystem in which they live.
We can vote with our dollar at the checkout and with the list of good fish, bad fish below we are empowered to make better buying decisions. This is how we can make a difference.
WHAT TO EAT AND WHAT TO AVOID:
HOW CAN YOU HELP CHANGE THE SEAFOOD LABELLING LAWS SO WE AS CONSUMERS KNOW WHAT WE’RE EATING
You can help in a big way by heading over to sign this petition. Australia deserves accurate seafood labelling and this petition is petitioning the Australian Senate to change the rules so we as consumers can feel confident in knowing what we’re buying and eating. Sign here
AND LASTLY – ENTER MY COMPETITION
To thank you for taking a stand and supporting the petition, and Matthew, and deciding to take positive steps in changing the way you eat, live and think; I would like to give one lucky person the chance to win ‘The gourmet Farmer, Goes Fishing’ cookbook which has been kindly donated by Matthew and Sadie from Fat Pig Farm.
All you need to do to enter is this: Tell me why you signed the petition. COMMENT BELOW
Winners will be announced on Friday 28th August here on the blog. Good luck
And now with all this information, you can fish and eat fish ethically and sustainably.
If you liked this blog post I hope that you will support Primal Living and the positive messages that we spread by sharing this post. Thank you.