New research which reveals how hard it is for food lovers in southeast Queensland to find sustainable seafood shows that State fishery reforms need to be accelerated to increase choice and availability, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says.
The study from the University of Queensland surveyed more than 50,000 seafood products in the region and assessed them for their sustainability based on AMCS’s sustainable seafood guide GoodFish. They found that less than 5% of seafood products assessed were green listed as a ‘better choice’ in the Guide.
AMCS fisheries spokesperson Simon Miller said the study showed that for the majority of consumers, Queensland-caught sustainable seafood can be difficult to find.
“Queenslanders want to eat sustainable, locally caught seafood,” said Mr Miller. “The Queensland government can help make that a reality by fast-tracking reforms that will improve the sustainability of popular products like wild caught barramundi and prawns. Both are currently red listed in our Guide because the methods used to catch them – gillnetting and trawling – also catches and kills significant numbers of protected and vulnerable wildlife including turtles, dugongs, sawfish and sea snakes.”
Mr Miller said tangible actions like cameras on boats, and closures when too many protected species are caught in the process of targeting wild caught barramundi and prawns are needed to improve their sustainability.
“The Queensland government is more than two years behind schedule in implementing some of these changes, as laid out in its own Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027,” he said.
“If the Queensland government fast-tracks and fully implements these reforms, then Queensland consumers will have access to a larger range and higher volumes of local sustainable seafood.
“These changes would also bring real benefits to Queensland fishers opening up new markets to them as the demand for sustainable seafood products at home and abroad increases.”
Mr Miller said that much of Queensland’s most popular seafood came from the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, where fishing practices should be gold standard to help build its resilience.
“We want Australians to be able to source sustainable local wild caught seafood, particularly popular seafood like prawns and barra, so communities can support fishers to be stewards of precious places like the Reef. But currently, those looking for truly sustainable options in SE Queensland have a small range of species to choose from or will need to seek out ‘better choices’ from other States.”
Farmed prawns and barramundi from Queensland are green listed as ‘better choices’ in the GoodFish guide. Wild caught crabs are either listed as green or amber (eat less).
Notes to editors
The GoodFish Sustainable Seafood Guide is an independent guide to the sustainability of seafood found at Australian fishmongers, supermarkets, fish and chip shops and restaurants.
Using a traffic light system and based on the latest scientific data, the guide informs users on any threats to protected species or fish stocks, and provides details on how the seafood is fished or farmed.
The Guide was created in response to demands from the public who wanted to know which seafood picks are the best for our oceans and its wildlife.
GoodFish is available as a free app and online. Visit goodfish.org.au.