News

IMPORTANT REMINDER – Country of Origin Labelling  – July 2018 MFMA Bulletin

As of 1 July 2018 all businesses must comply with the new country of origin labelling requirements set out in the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016.

Unpackaged Australian Seafood

Product labels for Australian seafood must have a three component country of origin label:

  1. The kangaroo in a triangle logo indicating that the product was grown, produced or made in Australia.
  2. The bar chart indicating the percentage of Australian ingredients. It will be fully shaded for wholly Australian seafood products.
  3. The explanatory text i.e. Product of Australia.

The statements will also need to be in a clearly defined box – see example below. 

Product of Australia stickers that can be applied to your current labels can be purchased from the Association – see order form attached.

Unpackaged Imported Seafood

There are no changes for unpackaged imported seafood. You must continue to use a country of origin text statement – e.g. Product of New Zealand.

Packaged Seafood

All packaged products you purchase from your suppliers that are packed on or after 1 July must have a country of origin statement that meets the requirements set out in the new standard. Products you have that were packaged prior to 1 July can still be sold.

Unpackaged products of mixed origin – Marinara Mix

If your marinara mix is 100% Australian then you should label it as per the requirements for unpackaged Australian seafood.

If the marinara mix is imported from a single country then you should label it as per the requirements for unpackaged imported seafood.

If you make up your own marinara mix with a mixture of Australian and imported seafood the label will need to indicate that the product is of mixed origin e.g. Mix of local and imported ingredients, or Mix of Australian and imported ingredients. You do not need to indicate the % of Australian product.

Exemptions

The new laws do not apply to seafood sold for immediate consumption. This means cooked fish shops, restaurants, cafes etc. are not affected by the new laws.

Further information

If you are unsure if you are meeting the obligations under the new country of origin labelling law you should contact our office or check out the ACCC website for more detailed information – www.accc.gov.au

 

FRDC Whichfish – July 2018 MFMA Bulletin

Businesses that trade in wild caught seafood can now access an online tool to help them determine the stock, environmental and management risks associated with the seafood they buy and sell.

whichfish.com.au is a new website launched by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) specifically to assist seafood buyers make better informed decisions.

“Whichfish will make it easier for businesses to determine which seafood to source by providing them an independent assessment of the risks associated with wild caught Australian seafood,” says FRDC’s Managing Director Patrick Hone.

Each assessment includes an outlook section to indicate whether risks are likely to lessen, remain stable or worsen.  Risk assessment reports are available online or the entire list can be downloaded for future reference at www.whichfish.com.au.

Whichfish.com.au currently features the first twenty-six Australian species including Saddletail Snapper, Eastern King Prawn, Balmain bugs and Deepwater Flathead.

The FRDC are working to add more species throughout the year and welcomes feedback on the site as well as suggestions for additional species for inclusion.

 

Nominations for Fish and Chips Awards now open – July 2018 MFMA Bulletin

The national fish and chips awards are back on. Voting for the Awards starts on 1 August 2018 and closes on 15 September 2018. Winners will be announced on 15 October 2018.

Fish and chips will be rated against a set of five criteria:
• Taste 40%: Does the seafood taste good? Cooking method will be key here – using the right approach for the right fish and doing it well to make your seafood sing.

  • Service 30%: Does the service meet customer expectations? Everything from the welcome to the goodbye is important.
  • Choice 10%: Does the menu offer customers options? The diversity of seafood, cooking methods and batter styles will count.
  • Information 10%: Are customers provided with accurate information about the source and qualities of the seafood? The menu must comply with the Australian Fish Names Standard and accurately label the seafood’s provenance to a national level, or better.
  • Presentation 10%: Is the store clean and inviting? Is the food packaged well to maintain quality?There are two categories of award:
    People’s Choice State Award: chosen by consumers, fish and chips lovers across Australia will be able to nominate and vote for their favourite at www.fishandchipsawards.com.au. Votes for the state and territory people’s choice awards will identify the top stores for judging.National Judged Fish and Chips Award: The top ranked shops from each state and territory will be judged by the FRDC appointed mystery panel. The judges will use a consistent process across Australia. The judges will then select state and territory winners, followed by national awards winners.To find out more about the Fish and Chip Awards go to: www.fishandchipsawards.com.au or contact Peter Horvat, peter.horvat@frdc.com.au, 0415 933 557.

 

Sex – another good reason to eat more seafood!!! – July 2018 MFMA Bulletin

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has shown that those couples that eat seafood more than twice a week have more sex and are more likely to get pregnant.

The study which was undertaken by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the US followed 500 couples that were trying to conceive for one year. At the end of the year 92 percent of couples that eat seafood more than twice a week had conceived compared to 79 percent who ate less seafood.

The study also showed that couples with the highest seafood intake (eight or more seafood servings a cycle) had 22 per cent more sex than the couples who ate less seafood.

The lead author of the study, Audrey Gaskins noted that higher conception rates may be due to improvements in sperm, menstrual function and embryo quality as previous studies have observed these benefits with higher seafood intake. She also noted that the reason could simply be that couples who ate more seafood together were spending more meals, and time, together.

 

Sydney Fish Market imposes 2% levy on merchants – August 2017 MFMA Bulletin

Sydney Fish Market has introduced a 2% Buyers Service Fee. The new fee which was introduced on 1 July 2017 applies to product purchased through the morning auction as well as direct sale and is expected to raise around $2.1 million from the buyers. SFM have argued that the fee is necessary to cover increases in non-discretionary costs.

The introduction of the fee was met with outrage from buyers and resulted in boycotts of the auction on Friday 22nd July and Friday 4th August 2017.

MFMA has had numerous meetings and discussions with SFM management over the past three months to relay the buyer’s opposition to the fee, the reasons why it should not be introduced and the need for SFM to look at other options to raise any shortfall in their revenue.

On 13 July 2017, the MFMA sent a letter to SFM for consideration by the Directors of the company at their Board meeting on 22 July 2017. The letter outlined our concerns and what we believe will ultimately be the impact on the buyers, fishers and SFM. The letter asked SFM to reconsider their position and negotiate an outcome that both the buyers and SFM can live with.

As a result SFM agreed to introduce a $20k cap on the Buyers Service Fee. The fee would remain at 2% but would now be applied to all buyers (including tenants).

In NSW there are no laws that prohibit companies that run an auction from applying a levy (commonly known as a Buyer’s Premium) on the purchaser.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also confirmed that there is no cause for action by the ACCC in regard to SFM introducing a Buyer’s Premium or in regards to SFM engaging in ‘misuse of market power’.

As it currently stands SFM Board and management remain steadfast that the 2% fee will remain in place in its current form, and that they are unwilling to consider making any changes that would materially reduce the cost burden affecting the bulk of buyers.

In the absence of legal avenues and given the limited impact of media exposure, it currently appears unlikely SFM will shift their position. This means that the buyers will be left to stump the bill at least until the new seafood market is built.

The MFMA will continue to prosecute the case that the Buyers Service Fee should not be imposed on the buyers. We will also argue for the Buyers Service Fee to be removed prior to SFM paying a dividend to their shareholders.

 

What consumers (don’t) want – August 2017 MFMA Bulletin

The latest research into seafood shopping experiences identifies opportunities to make seafood buying simpler for consumers

The difficulties in determining how fresh seafood is and how long it will last in the refrigerator have been identified as key barriers for consumers when it comes to buying seafood – even among those who eat it on a regular basis.

This is one of the findings to come from the FRDC’s latest market research, conducted in mid 2016 and summarised in the report Unpacking the consumer seafood experience.

Peter Horvat, the Manager of Communications, Marketing and Trade at FRDC, says the research is aimed at more than fine-tuning marketing messages. It has been valuable in identifying issues that prevent consumers buying seafood – issues that could be addressed by research, development and education.

“We know why people like seafood. What we don’t know is why they don’t, what stops them from buying it and what just annoys them,” he says. “We have been focusing on the issues of consumer preferences and seafood marketing so that we can better link and integrate it with the FRDC’s research and development program – to ultimately deliver on FRDC’s priority of improving productivity and profitability.”

The research consisted of an online survey of 2000 adult Australian grocery buyers undertaken from 21 June to 2 July, 2016. It collected information on a wide range of consumer seafood buying, cooking and eating experiences to document the problems people have with seafood and identify where the opportunities for improvement lie.

The survey targeted three key experiences in depth – purchasing, preparation/cooking and eating.

It found that 95 per cent of respondents ate some seafood at least once a year, with 91 per cent eating fresh seafood. However, 36 per cent ate seafood infrequently (no more than once every two months), or not at all. Almost one in three households also have at least one person who won’t or can’t eat seafood, which affects the overall incentive for buying seafood.

More than half of consumers (57 per cent) said they bought their seafood from supermarkets as part of a regular shop, with 17 per cent buying from seafood markets, 9 per cent from seafood shops and 7 per cent from other markets. This finding is likely to reflect the wide range of tinned and frozen seafood available from supermarkets.

However, for many people seafood remains an occasion-based experience; there are fewer who include it as part of the weekly food plan.

And while there is a common perception that seafood is expensive, 42 per cent of respondents found its value to be on par with other forms of meat, while one-third indicated seafood was better value.

“It’s clear that price is not as big an issue for consumers as previously thought,” says Peter Horvat.

New opportunities

Issues consumers identified as reasons they did not buy seafood more often include determining freshness, making it value for money through improved shelf life, the smell and mess involved, frozen and tinned products and confidence in product knowledge.

“We have undertaken some basic analysis of the results to highlight key opportunities. It seems clear from the results that if we can address some of the reasons why people don’t eat seafood, we could increase consumption,” says Peter Horvat.

Take, for example, the issue of determining freshness, which all consumers reported as a deterrent, regardless of how often they ate fish.

If it was possible to make this easier to determine and even a third of those who already eat fish for a main meal once a week increased their intake to two main meals a week, that could increase seafood sales by up to $27 million a year.

Potential solutions could come from better information, new technology, or new products and packaging.

“The report highlights key issues such as this, where FRDC and industry could target investment in order to have a tangible impact. Ultimately, if we are successful this will equate to an improvement in the bottom line for the industry (more sales, less waste) and improved consumer satisfaction and purchases.”

This kind of research demonstrates the need for a strong understanding of the end consumer and can provide insight into the areas that require investment, and it provides a mechanism for evaluating the success of improved marketing and other initiatives.

Peter Horvat says Unpacking the consumer seafood experience also contains a wealth of information for producers, retailers and marketers to use as a base for improving direct consumer marketing and for developing their product offerings. Source: FRDC Fish magazine, Volume 25, Number 1.

The full report can be downloaded at: http://www.frdc.com.au/research/market_research/Documents/2016%20Unpacking%20the%20consumer%20seafood%20experience.pdf

 

Status of Australian Fish Stocks  – August 2017 MFMA Bulletin

Consumers of Australian seafood can have renewed confidence in the sustainability of buying fish from Australian stocks with the release of the latest edition of Status of Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) reports from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

In total the reports look at 83 of the most important species, representing approximately 90 per cent of both volume and value of Australia’s total fisheries production.

Dr Patrick Hone, Executive Director for the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation said, “the reports provided a simple way for seafood consumers, fishers, managers, and the public to understand how Australia’s fish stocks are performing”.

These reports delve the depths of each species looking at the local level. In total 294 individual stocks were assessed.

The reports include 15 new species some very iconic such as the Western Australian Dhufish, others like Orange Roughy have endured a chequered past but are showing signs of recovery in some areas.

Prawn lovers should celebrate with prawn stocks scoring the highest across the board ratings. Not surprisingly, given they also have the highest number of Marine Stewardship Council certified fisheries.

Almost 100 of Australia’s fisheries scientists were responsible for producing the 83 species reports. In addition, a further 50 fisheries scientists anonymously reviewed the reports to ensure they were as accurate as possible.

Some of the key finding include of the reports include:

  • 83 species (or species complexes) were assessed across Australia.
  • 294 individual status assessments were carried out for the 83 species.
  • 174 stocks were classified as sustainable – representing 84.93 per cent of the total.
  • 9 stocks are classified as transitional–recovering.
  • 26 stocks are classified as transitional–depleting.
  • 5 stocks were deemed environmentally limited.
  • 17 stocks were classified as overfished. Importantly all have recovery management plans in place that aim to rebuild the stocks.
  • 49 stocks were classified as ‘undefined’. It is important to note all of these stocks have management in place; however there were insufficient data available to confidently classify the stocks.

Fishing is a core part of the Australian culture, provides thousands of local jobs and supplies high quality, sustainably harvested seafood to local and international markets.

Australians can be confident that locally-caught seafood is being sourced from fisheries that are being managed for sustainability.

The full report is available at http://www.fish.gov.au/

 

Is your seafood “Local” – August 2016 MFMA Bulletin

When advertising retail seafood as “local”, it needs to be done with a clear understanding of what the term “local” means. When consumers buy retail seafood advertised as “local”, they have a right to expect that what they purchased was grown or caught in the immediate locality to where they are purchasing it from.

Seafood retailers must ensure that when only using the term “local” to describe their products, that it:

  1. relates, or is restricted to a particular area or one’s neighbourhood;
  2. is associated with a particular locality or area; and
  3. relates to the area that you live in, or to the particular area that you are talking about.

Local food clearly refers to a geographic production area that is defined by boundaries and in close proximity to the consumer.

When using the word local to describe that a food was grown or caught etc, it should be followed with the particular area that it relates to. Example: Prawns – Local – Coffs Harbour.

This example describes the product as being caught in boats that work in the waters off Coffs Harbour and NOT Taree, Tweed Heads or in NSW in general.

 

Marine plastics in seafood – March 2016 MFMA Bulletin

Marine microplastics in seafood hit the news in February following claims that “if you’ve got an average seafood diet in Australia today, you’re probably ingesting about 11,000 pieces of plastic every year” by Dave West, National Policy Director and founder of environmental group, Boomerang Alliance.

Microplastics are small plastic particles in the environment that are generally smaller than 1 mm which come from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes.

Britta Denise Hardesty, Senior Research Scientist at the CSIRO however notes that “the 11,000 figure applies to an estimate for European top consumers of molluscs, not an average Australian seafood diet”.

“We don’t yet have all the data needed to make a good estimate of how much plastic an average Australian seafood consumer ingests per year”.

“It’s worth noting the important difference between eating fish and shellfish. Unless you’re eating sardines and anchovies, humans don’t typically consume the digestive tract of a fish (where plastics would be found). But if you’re eating molluscs and shellfish, particularly from urban centres, you may be adding plastic to your diet”.

“Microplastics are everywhere and humans are broadly exposed to them through the food. For example, microplastics have been recently detected in a range of terrestrial products such as milk, beer, honey and sea salt. Therefore, an analysis and assessment of the potential health risk of microplastics for humans should comprise dietary exposure from a range of foods across the total diet, in order to assess the contributing risk of contaminated marine food items”.

The federal Senate committee will be holding hearings on the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia in April.

 

Seafood could help Alzheimer’s – March 2016 MFMA Bulletin

A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February, has revealed that older adults who consume at least one portion of seafood a week have fewer signs of brain change over time. This suggested that seafood may prevent or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s.

The study also found that the mercury found in fish does not lead to mental decline. While the study confirms that people who eat more seafood have more mercury in their brains, researchers found no link between higher brain levels of mercury and the kind of brain damage associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Thai prawn farming and slavery – March 2016 MFMA Bulletin

The use of slave labour in the Thai prawn farming industry made the headlines at the end of last year.

The media reports focused on major Australian supermarkets that source prawn products from the Thai Union which in turn sources product from the Gig Peeling Factory outside Bangkok, which is at the centre of allegations that their workforce had been subject to human rights abuses.

The media attention has resulted in the major supermarkets initiating investigations to ensure their supply chains met their own ethical supply programs.

Given the importance of Thai prawn products in meeting consumer demand in Australia this is clearly an issue of significant concern for retailers.

The main driver in addressing the current situation has come from the European Union which has threatened to ban Thai seafood imports. The threats have spurred the Thai Government into passing an array of new laws aimed at eliminating the use of slave labour on fishing boats and in processing plants.

For seafood retailers in Australia the main option available to them is to consider purchasing products which are certified by the Global Aquaculture Alliance as meeting the Best Aquaculture Practices Certification (BAP). While there are other certification schemes BAP is the only ‘sustainability’ standard that covers ethical labour in supply chains (the others are environmental sustainability only) and the only standard to cover full supply chain –  hatchery, farm, processor and feed supply.

Norman Grant for the Seafood Importers Association of Australasia said that “if retailers want to offer a reliable and comprehensive solution to social issues, for those customers who are concerned, then including some BAP certified lines will provide an option.  Normally there won’t be any difference in the price.  The more we can get retailers asking for BAP certified product, the more wholesalers and importers will start to specify it. I can’t see any downside to this – only win win for everyone”.

The trouble at the moment is that the majority of products that are certified BAP are not labeled as such. This is despite this fact that many producers and processors, in Southeast Asia particularly, are already BAP certified. The only way to find out for sure at the moment is to ask your supplier.

If retailers would like further information they can contact the Seafood Importers Association of Australasia – 02 9880 7010. You can also find out further information on BAP at http://bap.gaalliance.org/

 

Wild caught fisheries production up – March 2016 MFMA Bulletin

The value of Australian fisheries and aquaculture production rose by 4 per cent to $2.5 billion in 2013-14—driven by a 10 per cent increase in the value of wild capture fisheries production, according to the latest report released in December 2015 by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) – Australian fisheries and aquaculture statistics 2014.

ABARES Executive Director, Karen Schneider, said the largest increase in the value of production was of rock lobster. “Rock lobster production rose by 33 per cent (or $147 million) to become the largest species group produced at $586 million,” Ms Schneider said. “This was a result of a 32 per cent increase in the average unit price of rock lobster.

“The value of prawn production from wild capture fisheries rose by 26 per cent to $274 million. “Overall, wild catch fisheries contributed 60 per cent of the gross value of Australian fisheries and aquaculture production in 2013-14.

“The value of Australian aquaculture production declined in 2013-14, by 6 per cent to $1 billion, but the story is mixed.

“Salmonids remain the largest contributor to Australian aquaculture production, accounting for 55 per cent of the total value. A continued increase in the value of salmonid production (by 5 per cent to $543 million) and prawns (by 6 per cent to $64 million) was offset by a decline in the production of aquaculture tuna—the value of southern blue fin tuna production declined by $31 million (20 per cent) to $122 million.

“The value of Australian fisheries and aquaculture product exports increased by $129 million to $1.3 billion in 2013-14, with the export value of rock lobster rising by 32 per cent.

“The rise in exports was more than matched by a rise in imports to $2 billion in 2013-14. This resulted in the trade gap in fisheries and aquaculture products increasing to $697 million.

“Seafood imports contributed an estimated 69 per cent of Australian seafood consumption in 2013-14. “Australia tends to import a range of low unit value products, including canned tuna and salmon but exports high unit value products such as rock lobster, abalone, whole tuna, and prawns.”

The full report can be found at http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/9aam/afstad9aamd003/2014/AustFishAquacStats_2014_v1.0.0.pdf

 

Fisheries Status Report – March 2016 MFMA Bulletin

The status of wild fish stocks that underpin Commonwealth fisheries has remained generally steady according to the latest Fisheries status report 2015 also by ABARES.

ABARES Executive Director, Karen Schneider, said the report shows that of the 92 fish stocks reviewed, across the 21 Commonwealth fisheries, 63 stocks (or 68 per cent) were both not overfished and not subject to overfishing. This is an increase from 61 stocks in last year’s reports.

Ms Schneider said that for the second consecutive year there were no stocks classified as subject to overfishing in any fisheries managed solely by the Australian government. This is an important measure of management performance, in terms of ensuring the levels of harvest are sustainable.

“The reports also reflect the rebuilding of the eastern zone orange roughy stock, which is now classified as not overfished. The orange roughy stock was closed to targeted fishing because of historic depletion. However, the most recent stock assessment has shown the stock is above the limit, so not overfished. In line with this the Australian Fisheries Management Authority has set a total allowable catch for the 2015–16 fishing season,” Ms Schneider said.

“Unfortunately, redfish in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery is now classified as overfished based on the most recent stock assessment, and there is uncertainty around the level of fishing mortality that will allow the stock to rebuild. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority is currently developing a rebuilding strategy for this stock.

“There are also two stocks that are internationally managed and where the fish stocks are fished by several nations—namely bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean and striped marlin in the Indian Ocean—that are both subject to overfishing and overfished.

The full report can be found at http://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/publications/display?url=http://143.188.17.20/anrdl/DAFFService/display.php?fid=pb_fsr15d9abm_20151030.xml

 

Community Perceptions of the Australian Fishing Industry – May 2014 MFMA Bulletin

In 2011 and again in 2013 the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) commissioned research in order to gauge community perceptions about the achievements the fishing industry is making towards long term sustainability. The results of the 2013 survey have just been released – Community perceptions of the sustainability of the fishing industry in Australia. The research is based on an online survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,025 randomly selected adult Australians (aged 18 years and over) and was conducted to provide robust measures of community perceptions. The results from the survey were weighted using the ABS population estimates to ensure the final results appropriately reflected the current size and structure of the Australian population. Once again the results continue to reflect the fact that the public perception as to whether commercial fishing activities in Australia are sustainable is at odds with the latest scientific advice, which demonstrates that more than 90% of the commercial catch is sustainable. The results from the 2013 research indicate that the views of the Australian community continue to be somewhat fragmented with:

  • just over four in ten (42%) believing the industry was sustainable;
  • one in five (20%) believing the industry was not sustainable; while
  • the remaining 38% are just not sure if the industry was sustainable or not.

Pleasingly however the proportion of Australians who believe the industry is sustainable has increased since 2011 (up 5% from 37%); this is a statistically significant increase and indicates opinions are changing albeit slowly. Among those who were uncertain or dismissive that the industry was currently sustainable (58%), there is a clear sense of pessimism with more than half (52% of these people) not confident the industry will become sustainable. The communities perceptions of aquaculture are however somewhat different to the wild catch sector. The research showed a stronger level of confidence across the community regarding the sustainability of the aquaculture industry (76%, down 2% from 2011). Clearly the challenge remains to ensure that the major investments and achievements by both industry and Government in delivering sustainable commercial fisheries in Australia receive sufficient community visibility which will require ongoing effort, communication and engagement.

 

FRDC get approval for marketing and promotional activities – May 2014 MFMA Bulletin

With the passing of the Rural Research and Development Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) will now be allowed to take on marketing and promotion activities. The legislative changes allow the FRDC to link research, development and extension to marketing. The FRDC hope the changes will improve the industry’s productivity and profitability, and allow its many diverse stakeholders to collectively address public perceptions of fishing and aquaculture in the Australian community. FRDC Executive Director Patrick Hone says, “The FRDC is, at its core, a research organisation. It is what we are, and what we do well. This will not change; it underpins our reputation as an independent, evidence-based organisation. Any marketing or promotion we undertake will adhere to the same rules and standards as our other activities.” “In line with this, it is very important for all stakeholders to know that the FRDC will not be able to use the marketing functions to undertake advocacy. There is a clear separation between the FRDC’s role and that of the industry”. Patrick Hone says “the legislative changes will not affect existing operations. New activities will only be activated in response to a request from the industry or an industry sector. Industry has to want to establish a collective marketing function. Any additional activities must add value to current operations”.

 

Independent seafood guides come under criticism – October 2013 MFMA Bulletin

The Director of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Coasts Centre at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Tasmania, Prof Colin Buxton, has declared that all fresh fish for sale in Australia is sustainable and people shouldn’t worry about fish guides or cards. In an interview on ABC Hobart, Prof Buxton said “I’d throw the card away if I were you, I’d just go and look for the freshest fish in your fish shop because it’s all sustainably produced”. Prof Buxton says there is more that can be done in the aquaculture industry to manage sustainability of species and meet the challenges of climate change, but overall he says people shouldn’t worry about the fresh fish in Australian markets. “I honestly don’t believe what is written on most of those cards”. “That’s an anti-fishing agenda that produces those cards, and that’s a pretty bold statement from me, but I wouldn’t trust a lot of what you read on those cards”. It is generalised to the point that it’s almost ridiculous. “Take salmon for example, a lot of the criticisms against the salmon aquaculture industry in Tasmania is based on what is going on in the northern hemisphere, it’s completely and utterly irrelevant and those are the sort of emotive arguments that drive the choices on those cards.”

 

AFMA declares Australian seafood sustainable – May 2013 MFMA Bulletin

For sustainable seafood, think Australian. That’s the message the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA). The recently updated Australian Dietary Guidelines have recommended that Australians increase their fish consumption by more than 40 per cent; however choosing sustainable seafood can seem confusing. Australian fisheries are managed under strict rules to reduce the environmental impacts of fishing and to ensure that stocks remain strong into the future. This means that consumers can be confident that local seafood is managed and caught responsibly and sustainably. Numerous international studies have ranked Australia’s fishery management among the best in the world including for its environmental sustainability. Industry members in some fisheries have chosen to be assessed by independent programs such as the Marine Stewardship Council. Australia has seven fisheries that have been independently certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as sustainable, with four of these managed by the federal regulator, AFMA. Annual reports on stock status show that each year more stocks are considered healthy, with fewer in the ‘overfished’ and ‘subject to overfishing’ category (only three Commonwealth-managed stocks in the most recent report). Since 2007 the number of key commercial fish stocks known to be sustainably fished has doubled (from 28 to 56).  This list includes popular table fish such as flathead and prawns.  AFMA CEO Dr James Findlay said “that tough fishery rules mean that Australian seafood is caught responsibly and consumers should feel confident purchasing and enjoying this seafood”. “I know people are sometimes worried about whether certain types of fish are ethically ok to buy, but in Australia we use very good science to monitor the fish stocks and we set catch limits so that commercial fishers can’t take more than is sustainable”, Dr Findlay said. “The fishing industry also takes sustainability seriously and we work closely with them to ensure they are using best practice methods”. “It is very encouraging to see some fishers going above and beyond what is required by the regulations to ensure their fishery is world class.” Healthy stocks and robust science and management are allowing AFMA to increase catch limits in a number of key fisheries. These increases are putting more healthy and sustainable seafood, including Blue Grenadier, on the plates of Australian consumers.

 

Early childhood fish consumption may reduce allergies – May 2013 MFMA Bulletin

A group of Swedish researchers believe that the addition of fish to a child’s diet before the age of 12 can help prevent allergic diseases. Experts from the Institute of Environmental Medicine and the Department of Clinical Science and Education in Stockholm, studied more than 3,000 young children and looked at the effect of regular fish ingestion and a lessening of the number of children with allergies, such as seasonal, indoor allergies and eczema. The study showed that children who consumed at least two servings of fish monthly were up to 75 percent less likely to have allergy symptoms. Although most studies surrounding fish intake and allergies have been observational, there has been a shift in the thinking around introducing children to diverse foods at a young age – including seafood. Although researchers are confident in this conclusion they are unsure what it is that specifically causes this effect on allergic diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have been praised by medical experts in the past for supporting immune health and heart function.

 

Allergy-free Seafood – May 2013 MFMA Bulletin

James Cook University (JCU) scientists are attempting to develop allergy-free seafood, to allow more people to safely enjoy the delights of fish and prawns. In a world-first project, JCU researchers in Townsville are trying to identify species of fish and crustaceans that present a zero-to-minimal risk of triggering allergic reactions in those people that are sensitive to seafood. They are using cutting-edge genetic and molecular screening techniques to locate the DNA and proteins that make some species safe to eat, with the aim of farming the animals in an aquaculture setting. The researchers hope that allergy-free barramundi and tiger prawns may become commercially available within the next five to eight years.

Eat fish for a longer life – May 2013 MFMA Bulletin

People aged 65 and older who eat fish may live an average of two years longer than people who do not consume the omega-3 fatty acids found mainly in seafood, according to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington. People with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids also had an overall risk of dying that was 27 percent lower, and a risk of dying from heart disease that was 35 percent lower than counterparts who had lower blood levels, said the study. While other studies have demonstrated a link between omega-3 fatty acids and lower risk of heart disease, this research examined records of older people to determine any link between fish-eating and death risk. Researchers scanned 16 years of data on about 2,700 US adults aged 65 or older. Those considered for the study were not taking fish oil supplements, to eliminate any confusion over the use of supplements or dietary differences. Those with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty had the lowest risk of dying from any cause, and lived an average of 2.2 years longer than those with low levels. The findings persisted after researchers adjusted for demographic, lifestyle and diet factors. “Our findings support the importance of adequate blood omega-3 levels for cardiovascular health, and suggest that later in life these benefits could actually extend the years of remaining life,” said lead author Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health. “The biggest bang-for-your-buck is for going from no intake to modest intake, or about two servings of fatty fish per week,” said Mozaffarian.

 

The truth about imported seafood in Australia – May 2013 MFMA Bulletin

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) has released a fact sheet on imported seafood – Imported Seafood in Australia. The factsheet is based on the 2011 study – A Study Of The Composition, Value And Utilisation Of Imported Seafood In Australia and can be downloaded at http://frdc.com.au/knowledge/Factsheets/Factsheet_Imported_Seafood_in_Australia.pdf

 

New report on the Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks – February 2013 MFMA Bulletin

Australia’s key wild fish species are well managed according to the first ever national snapshot of fish stocks by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation – Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks. Over 80 of the country’s leading fisheries researchers from Australian, state and territory government research agencies collaborated to produce the reports, which assessed 49 species representing over 80 per cent of the value and 70 percent of the volume of Australian wild catch fisheries. The Fisheries Minister, Senator Joe Ludwig, who launched the final product in Mackay, said the Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks reports provide an important summary of the sustainability of the country’s fish stocks. “Fishing is a big part of Australian culture and an important local industry for many communities around our coastline” Minister Ludwig said. “These reports show that consumers can be confident that locally-caught seafood comes from fisheries that effectively manage the sustainability of the wild fish stock”. “Australia has a great record when it comes to the sustainability of our fisheries, and these reports are a fantastic information base for governments, researchers, fishers, industry and the community to work from to make sure that remains the case.” Of the 49 key wild capture fish species selected, 150 stocks were assessed and 98 were classified as ‘sustainable stocks’. Only two stocks were classified as ‘overfished stocks’, and these have management plans in place for their recovery. Minister Ludwig said “in addition to stock status, the reports also provide information on catch trends, fishing methods and management as well as summaries of environmental issues and references for further information”. “This snapshot is the first of its kind. It took a lot of hard work and collaboration from government and industry and will go a long way in increasing transparency throughout the different fishing jurisdictions,” he said. “The assessments show that seafood favourites such as banana prawns, Queensland and Northern Territory barramundi, blue grenadier, flathead and eastern school whiting are being managed to ensure the stocks are sustainable.” “The reports open the door for future editions that may look at even more species and broader issues such as ecological impacts, economic performance, management performance, and social good.” The reports were initiated by the FRDC and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). They have been produced in collaboration with government fisheries research agencies in all Australian jurisdictions and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The reports are available at www.fish.gov.au.

 

New Dietary Guidelines Released – February 2013 MFMA Bulletin The National Health and Medical Research Council and the Department of Health and Ageing have just released the new Australian Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines highlight that depending on age and sex, health benefits may be seen with consumption of 1.4 to 2.8 serves (140–280g) of fish per week for adults. The most recent dietary survey data available for adults showed that mean weekly consumption of fish and seafood was 168g for men and 119g per week for women. Professor Andrew Sinclair, School of Medicine Deakin University and scientific advisor for the Omega 3 Centre, endorses the report’s findings. “The scientific evidence supports an association between the consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and cardiovascular, brain and eye health”. Professor Sinclair noted that in particular men need to increase their consumption by more than 40% to meet recommended food group intakes.

 

Australian Seafood Consumers Misled by Prophets of Doom and Gloom Wendesday, 29 February 2012 – Sydney Fish Market Press Release

Australians are being misled about the state of our fisheries, with NGOs pushing a barrage of anti-fishing rhetoric not based on sound science, according to eminent marine scientist Dr Ray Hilborn (Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington). Dr Hilborn said the relentless anti-fishing campaign has led to government imposed restrictions on fishing, making Australians more reliant on imported seafood. He questions the motives of NGOs in perpetuating myths about the sustainability of Australian fisheries, and says they are out of touch with recent global developments and in denial of fisheries management outcomes in Australia, which are among the best managed in the world. ‘Australia is subject to a relentless anti-fishing campaign that is causing doom and gloom myths from misrepresentations of overseas examples of inadequate fisheries management. I believe NGOs need the public to believe fisheries are in poor shape to boost their fundraising,’ Dr Hilborn said. Dr Hilborn is conducting a series of briefings for industry stakeholders and politicians in Sydney and Canberra on his visit to Australia this week; where he is releasing a paper titled ‘Australian Seafood Consumers misled by prophets of gloom and doom’. Click here for a synopsis >> Click here for full release >> Click here for full paper >>