Home » News

Coalition scraps fishing bans for new marine parks – May 2014 MFMA Bulletin

The Federal Government has announced that fishing bans scheduled to lock out fishing from at least 1.3 million square kilometres of ocean around Australia have been scrapped.

“The Coalition Government has had the new Commonwealth marine reserves re-proclaimed. This invalidates the management plans signed off by Labor and stops the exclusion zones that would have come into effect next July, while keeping the parks and their boundaries.

“Labor’s management plans – including massive bans on recreational and commercial fishing – now will not be implemented on July 1,” Senator Boswell said. “Recreational and commercial fishers can continue fishing everywhere they do now”.

“In the meantime, an expert scientific panel will look closely at the science supporting the marine reserves and bioregional advisory panels will improve consultation with stakeholders. We are going to take a sensible, truly scientific look at what’s needed in the marine parks and make sure recreational and commercial fishers and other stakeholders are involved in genuine consultation.”

“It is possible to allow fishing and still maintain a healthy marine environment with rich biodiversity. We are not in the business of banning fishing without any scientific justification just for the sake of appeasing environmental lobbyists.”

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.”

Coalition pours cold water on extending country of origin labelling – October 2013 MFMA Bulletin

ABC Rural has reported that demands to extend ‘country of origin’ labelling laws to seafood sold in restaurants and other cooked food outlets have received a lukewarm response from decision makers.

The Coalition’s fisheries spokesperson Richard Colbeck recently attended the prawn and barramundi farmers conference at Cairns in Queensland, where farmers have appealed for truth in seafood labelling.

Senator Colbeck said “the industry’s argument for mandatory labelling laws on the food service sector needs to be balanced against the potential impact”.

“It depends on how much change and variation they have to make to their menus and at a point in time when the entertainment, the restaurant and catering sector is doing it as tough as everybody else in the economy at the moment, any additional cost becomes an additional burden,” he said.

“I don’t think the Northern Territory mechanism would work nationally, because it’s not consistent across all products, but I’ll have those conversations with the industry and we’ll keep talking about it.”

Senator Colbeck says he’s not surprised to have received a survey of customer attitudes showing 90 per cent of the population would like to have better country of origin labelling.

“The sad reality is when most people go to get their wallet out and make the purchase only about 10 per cent make that value choice,” he said.

“If you look at what’s happening in the broader food manufacturing sector across Australia at the moment and see the number of businesses who are going out of business or closing down because of the cost of business, if I were to impose another cost onto them no matter how marginal, that potentially tips them over the edge.”

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

Push to extend country of origin labelling to cooked seafood – February 2013 MFMA Bulletin

Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has announced that he will be combining forces with SA Independent MLC, John Darley, to introduce legislation at State and Federal levels to require restaurants and takeaways to disclose the country of origin of seafood.

The legislation will be based on laws introduced in the Northern Territory in 2008 that extend country of origin labelling requirements to seafood cooked for immediate consumption.

Senator Xenophon said that, “consumers have a right to know if the fish they are eating is imported from overseas or from local waters”. John Darley noted that, “the fact that consumers cannot make an informed decision about what they are getting at the fish and chip shop is hurting the local fishing industry”.

A 2011 review of the Northern Territory legislation showed consumers were willing to pay up to 25% more for local seafood and country of origin was the second-most important factor for consumers, behind freshness. “This survey indicated an increase in sales of local produce after the labelling requirements came into force, which shows people are willing to pay for an Australian product.”

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

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 >>

Australian Trawlers lobby to move proposed Coaral Seas Marine reserve boarders – Feb 2012 MFMA Bulletin

TheQueenslandseafood industry is urging the Gillard Government to adjust the no-take zones outlined in the proposed Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve. The Queensland Seafood Industry Association president Geoff Tilton said the Government’s plan to exclude commercial fishing from almost 1 million sq km of tropical ocean to create the world’s biggest marine park would jeopardise the businesses of more that 40 prawn trawlers.

Mr Tilton said “this reflects the influence on the Gillard Government by foreign multi-national environmental lobbying businesses like the American-based Pew Foundation, who clearly hate commercial fishing in general and trawling in particular”. “These overseas organisations and their local subsidiaries like the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) will clearly take whatever action they can, wherever they can, to prevent commercial fishermen operating and prevent consumers enjoying fresh local seafood.”

Mr Tilton said “it is obvious that both the seafood industry and seafood consumers will be impacted by the Federal Government proposals but we will now examine theCanberraplan in detail. We will put forward recommendations to maintain the pristine nature of this vast area but allow sustainable commercial fishing to continue in line withAustralia’s and the world’s increasing need for protein foods.”

Marine Parks on Hold in NSW – Feb 2012 MFMA Bulletin

The Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks inNew South Waleswas released on 16 February. The report recommends the all marine waterways are governed by one legislative and administrative structure that’s closely aligned with the five catchment-management authorities covering the NSW coast drainage system. The report recognised that there is more to good management than simply locking humans out and particularly preserving water quality is key.

Following the release of the report the NSW government confirmed that it will continue its five year moratorium on the establishment of new marine parks. The Primary Industries Minister, Katrina Hodgkinson, said that the government would now seek public submissions on the report until 30 June after which it will formally respond. The independent audit report can be viewed at

NSW fishermen attach their own industry – Feb 2012 MFMA Bulletin

On 16 January the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) ran a front page article entitled “Buy us out and protect marine life, urge fishermen”. The article states that “five seafood trawlers have declared their practices environmentally damaging and say the federal government should buy them out and expand a proposed conservation sanctuary earmarked for the temperate east marine region”. TheNelsonBay trawl operators have reportedly also written to green groups stating that “trawling destroys the habitat which supports fish and marine life”.

In response to the article the NSW Seafood Industry Council (which is made up of the Sydney Fish Market, the Master Fish Merchants’ Association of Australia, NSW Fishermen’s Co-Operative Association and OceanWatchAustralia) sent the following response to the editor of the SMH:

I refer to the article ‘Buy us out and protect marine life, urge fishermen’ (SMH 16/1/12).

Unfortunately these fishermen typify one of the major problems in the fishing industry and that is a selfish minority prepared to sacrifice consumers’ interests, their colleagues and their industry on the altar of self interest.

I am informed that these fishermen work only part time and it seems engage in practices that responsible, professional fishermen do not. They see a buyout at taxpayer expense as their only opportunity to profit from this industry after realising fishing is more hard work then they first thought. Fishing certainly has become hard, with rising costs, price pressure from imports and the relentless reduction of resource access as a result of marine parks, recreational fishing havens, mining exploration and a host of other reasons.

The fact is that fishing inAustraliais tightly regulated and managed. Serious professional fishermen understand this and not only comply with regulations but work tirelessly to deliver a vital, sustainable, renewable food source to Australians. They care about industry longevity and are aware that their future depends on themselves and their colleagues fishing sustainably.

The assertion by this extreme minority of professional fishers that trawling is ‘destroying the habitat which supports fish and marine life’ is nothing more than a distortion of the truth in search of unearned personal benefit. Contrary to common perceptions, trawling over soft ground, as carried out by all responsible trawl-fishers in the area in question, has been scientifically demonstrated not to be harmful to either fish or the bottom on which they live.

To support his advocacy for fishing closures Chris Smyth [Australian Conservation Foundation] claims, ‘If this proposal is adopted it will be a win for the oceans and a win for the local community’. Unfortunately for Mr Smyth the species he claims will benefit from eliminating this group from the fishery are not taken by these fishers. His claim is as misguided as those of this group of self-interested fishers.

The full article by the Sydney Morning Herald can be viewed at:

PETA at it again – Feb 2012 MFMA Bulletin

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have requested Sea World, on the Gold Coast,Queensland, to remove all fish dishes from the menu. According to Jeff Hughes, PETA’s Australian Director of Campaigns, serving fish flesh at an aquarium is “like serving up poodle burgers at a dog show”, “they’re asking people to appreciate these animals for their beauty and intelligence and their sensitivity yet at the same time they’re participating in their painful slaughter”. In Mr Hughes opinion the treatment of fish caught and raised for food should warrant cruelty-to-animal charges.

Another spokesperson from PETA, speaking to AAP on the issue, Clair Fryer, stated that “it’s been found that fish absorb chemicals and sewage and other pollution from the water they live in and that can be passed on through their flesh to people who eat it”.

Sea World has declined to comment on PETA’s demands, however Chris Irwin, nutritional researcher atGriffithUniversity’s Health Institute responded that “I think it’s a fairly flaky point they’re trying to make, fish is probably one of our best protein sources. It’s low in saturated fats, it’s low in total fats, and has plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Comparing that to things like farm animals that we eat, like pigs that roll around in mud, fish is probably a better choice than some others”.

Health News – Feb 2012 MFMA Bulletin

Omega-3 rich fish reduces heart disease risk in women

A new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that young women may be able to reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease simply be eating more fish rich in omega-3. The study looked at 49,000 women, 15-49 years old, over an eight year period. The results showed that those who rarely or never ate fish had 50 percent more cardiovascular problems than those that ate fish regularly.

Eating fish just once a week could stave off Alzheimers

A ten year study from US researchers at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine has shown that eating grilled or baked fish just once a week could stave off Alzheimers by stopping the brain from shrinking – eating fried fish showed no benefit. The study establishes for the first time a direct link between fish consumption and the health of ‘grey cells’ that are vital for memory and other key brain functions.

The lead author Cyrus Raji said “brain volume was crucial to brain health and when it remains higher, brain health is being maintained”. Consuming baked or broiled [grilled] fish promotes stronger neurons in the brain’s gray matter by making them larger and healthier. This simple lifestyle choice increases the brains resistance to Alzheimer’s disease and lowers risk for the disorder”. The results of the study also demonstrated increased levels of mental activity in people who ate fish.

Eating fish during pregnancy could enhance babies intellectual capacity

According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the children of women who ate more fish during pregnancy produced better results on tests of verbal intelligence, complex motor skills and behaviours leading to socialization. The idea that fish is a “brain food” was also tested in an earlier study which showed that fish consumption during pregnancy was associated with a higher verbal IQ in children tested at age eight years.

A Study Of The Composition, Value And Utilisation Of Imported Seafood In Australia – Oct 2011 MFMA Bulletin

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) has released a new report by Ruello & Associates, looking at imported seafood in Australia – A Study Of The Composition, Value And Utilisation Of Imported Seafood In Australia. The report involved detailed analysis of official statistics, various reports and trade information from industry and from personal observations. The report found that:

  • The 193,000 tonnes of seafood imported in 2008/09 had an estimated final sale value of $4.5 billion, 3.5 times the import cost of $1.3 billion.
  • Imported seafood provides 72% of the seafood flesh consumed in Australia and more than two thirds of the seafood industry’s post harvest sector employment.
  • Imported seafood mostly generates a higher multiplier from the import cost to the final sale value than Australian produce because the sellers typically constrain selling prices and profit margins on the (costlier) domestic goods to make them more affordable for consumers.
  • The overall quality, packing, size grading and branding of imports is good, so much so that the price of imports are increasingly as high as or surpassing those of the equivalent Australian product.
  • CSIRO and other authoritative reviews indicate that imported seafood does not pose any greater food safety risk than locally produced food.

Download full report: Imported Seafood Study Final Report

Download PDF fact sheet: Imported Seafood Australia Brochure

NSW Seafood Industry Council Submission to the Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks in NSW

The NSW Government has formed a Marine Parks Independent Scientific Panel to undertaking an independent scientific audit of marine parks in NSW – as per their election commitment. The panel will review the effectiveness of marine parks in protecting different habitat types and provide recommendations on further action and, if appropriate, alternative management approaches. The panel is due to report to the government by 30 December 2011. More information is available at

The submission for the NSW Seafood Industry Council can be viewed at

Sydney Fish Market – 2011 Seafood Excellence Awards

Best Supplier NSW

WINNER – Bermagui Fishermen’s Co-operative

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Ballina Fishermen’s Co-operative…..

Best Supplier – Interstate or Overseas

WINNER – OPC Fish and Lobster – a division of Aoteara Fisheries Ltd

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Moana Pacific Fisheries


Best Seafood Retailer -Suburban and Regional

WINNER – Peter Roan Seafood

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Costi’s @ Westpoint…..

Best Seafood Retailer – Sydney Fish Market

WINNER – Peter’s Fish Market

HIGHLY COMMENDED – De Costi Seafoods

Best Fish and Chips – Regional

WINNER – Bub’s Fish and Chips, Nelson Bay……

Best Fish and Chips Sydney

WINNER – Bondi Surf Seafoods

For a full list of the Winners go to

Closed mussels are fine to eat!

The Australian Mussel Industry Association (AMIA) are try to bust the myth which started in the 1970’s, that mussels that don’t open after cooking are unsafe to eat. According to the AMIA “there is nothing wrong with these mussels and Australians’ have thrown away around 370 tonnes of good mussels because of an old wives tale!”

Just over 10% of mussels will stay closed after being cooked, depending on cooking time. As it is steamed, the mussel opens when the adductor muscle inside the shell breaks. If the adductor mussel hangs on to the shell, then the muscle will not open. To help dispel the urban myth the AMIA has come up with a great little video clip featuring an animated mussel – “Murray the Mussel”. You can check out the clip at Merchants should advise customers that closed mussels can be cooked a little longer or the shell can be prised open with a knife.

Aquaculture pushes global fish production to new heights

According to research undertaken by Nourish the Planet for the US based independent research organisation, Worldwatch Institute, global fish production has reached an all time high. Aquaculture now contributes nearly half of all fish produced worldwide, with output from the sector increasing 50 fold between 1950’s and 2008. The research also notes that according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an estimated 53% of fisheries are now considered fully exploited – harvested to their maximum sustainable yield – with no room for expansion in production.

Sydney Fish Market redevelopment rejected by tenants

It has been announced that theplanned $40 million redevelopment of Sydney Fish Market has been scuttled by the site tenants. The site tenants, which are 50% shareholders in the market, rejected the redevelopment on economic grounds. It looks likely that the market will now move to just undertake modest repairs. Sydney Fish Market, Chief Executive, Grahame Turk said that “it will be like putting lipstick on a bulldog”. He noted that “it is disappointing, it’s frustrating but in the end it’s the tenants’ business”. On the back of the announcement the NSW Planning Minister, the Hon. Brad Hazzard, announced that he intends to meet with all parties in an effort to see the redevelopment proceed.

Seafood Excellence Awards 2011

Sydney Fish Market has announced that the Seafood Excellence Awards will be held on Saturday, 30 July 2011, at Centennial Hall, Sydney Town Hall. Tickets to attend will be $150 (plus GST) ea.

Nominations are open in the following categories:

  • Excellence in Environmental Practice
  • Best Supplier (Aquaculture)
  • Best Supplier (NSW)
  • Best Supplier (Interstate or Overseas)
  • Inspired By Seafood
  • Best Seafood Retailer (Suburban and Regional NSW)
  • Best Seafood Retailer (Sydney Fish Market)
  • Best Fish and Chips (Regional NSW) Best Fish and Chips (Sydney)
  • Best Seafood Restaurant (Regional NSW)
  • Best Seafood Restaurant (Sydney)
  • Seafood Promotion Award
  • Seafood Business Award
  • Star of The Sea

Nominations are open from Friday 25 March and close Wednesday, 15 June 2011

For more information go to

NSW – Food Safety Supervisor

Under the new food laws introduced to NSW at the end 2010, businesses that sell ready-to-eat food, such as takeaway seafood outlets, restaurants and cafes, will need to appoint at least one trained Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) by 1 October 2011. (Fresh seafood retailers are exempt from the requirement to appoint a trained Food Safety Supervisor.)

To become a FSS you will need to complete training in units of competency with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). A list of RTOs is available on the Food Authority website or from your local council. The training can generally be completed in one full day. Once the training is complete you will be issued with a Food Safety Supervisor certificate. The business owner will then have seven days to notify either the NSW Food Authority or the local council.

Businesses will need to appoint at least one FSS per premise, you cannot use the same FSS for several premises. The FSS will normally be the owner of the business or a manager, particularly if it is a small business. The FSS does not have to be at the premises at all times. Business owners are however required to appoint a new FSS within 30 operational days of a FSS leaving their business.

Businesses that do not comply with the requirement under FSS scheme will be issued a penalty notice for up to $330 for an individual and $660 for a registered company.

For more information go to

Prawn Disease Found in Malaysian Prawn Imports

At a Senate hearing on 22 February 2011, it was revealed that a 20 tonne shipment of raw prawns imported from Malaysia in September was released into Australia despite laboratory reports showing 31% of samples taken from the shipment had tested positive to white spot syndrome virus. White spot syndrome virus only affects crustaceans and has had a significant impact on prawn farms throughout the rest of the world. The hearing was told that a quarantine officer with Biosecurity Services Group “overlooked the positives” in the laboratory paperwork. While 3 tonnes of the shipment was “recalled and re-exported”, 17 tonnes remains missing. According to a spokesman from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the prawns are hard to track down because they were “sold to the catering industry”.

Total Allowable Catch for Eastern Tuna & Billfish

At a meeting on 24 January 2011, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority Commission announced that the Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF) is changing from managing the number of hooks set (input controls) to managing the weight of five quota species that can be taken (output controls).

The five species include: yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, albacore tuna, swordfish and striped marlin. Mr John Bridges, Acting Chief Executive Officer of AFMA, said “the catch quota management arrangement is a far more effective way to sustainably manage the fish stock in the fishery”.

Under the proposed changes commercial operators will be allowed to increase the harvest from 5,926 tonnes to 9,505 tonnes. Sports fishing groups have condemned the proposed changes claiming that it is not only unsustainable but also goes against the governments own scientific advice and will wipe out gamefish stock worth millions to the sports fishing industry.

NSW Occupational Health & Safety – Residual Current Devices – 18 February 2011

A Residual Current Device (RCD) is an electrical safety device specifically designed to immediately switch the current off when electricity “leaking” to earth is detected at a level harmful to a person using electrical equipment. In essence it stops people from receiving an electrical shock.

Under the new amendment to the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001, employers “must ensure that, in relation to each electrical outlet socket at the employer’s place of work, the circuit is protected by a residual current device”. Employers “must ensure, so far as reasonable practicable, that the residual current device is incorporated before or as part of the socket”. It should be noted however that businesses have 4 years to comply with the above requirement to install RCD’s.

Employers are also required to ensure that RCD’s “used at the employer’s place of work are tested regularly by a competent person to ensure that the devices are operating effectively”.

If you are unsure whether or not your workplace is protected by RCD’s you should contact a qualified electrician.

Rebates of up to $500 to purchase and install safety switches are available for small businesses that attend a WorkCover workshop or arrange an advisory visit. For More information contact NSW WorkCover on 13 10 50.

Seafood Marketing Levy

In early November 2010 representatives from the fishing and aquaculture sectors met at the Melbourne Convention Centre to discuss the establishment of an industry marketing and promotion levy. At the meeting the participants agreed on the following:

  1. To support the establishment of a legislative mechanism to enable those sectors of the seafood industry that want a marketing and promotion levy to have one.
  2. The collection point for each sector levy to be determined by that sector.
  3. The administration of such levies must be managed by an industry driven organization with an approved governance structure, and that expenditure of any funds must be fully accountable and transparent.
  4. The body responsible for reporting to Parliament on expenditure of the levies be the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.
  5. An administration cost for managing the levy be capped at an amount agreed to by the relevant sector.
  6. To urge the Federal Government to create a $5 million seafood marketing and promotion matching fund, to which sectors that have a levy can apply for specific marketing/promotion projects.

The MFMA has written to Seafood Experience Australia on behalf of our members expressing our in principle support for the initiative. The Association believes that the establishment of a producer based levy to promote seafood consumption is a critical step in finally addressing the absence of a well funded, co-ordinated and sustainable marketing and promotional campaign for seafood.