'Australia's seafood labelling laws fail consumers, fishers and the environment. We should know what fish it is, where it's from and how it was caught or farmed.' - Matthew Evans

Tell the Federal Government: I want to know what seafood I am eating – and demand accurate labelling.

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Dear Minister,

I’m shocked by recent health scares and seafood labelling scandals and I want you to do something about it.

Right now, Australians like me can be kept in the dark when we go to the fish and chip shop or choose fish fingers from the supermarket freezer. Because of our weak seafood labelling laws I don't have to be told what fish I’m eating, where it came from, or how it was produced.

It’s time I was given the information I need to make a good choice for my family’s health, the environment, and local fishing communities

Europeans are given all the information they need thanks to recent reform. Why don’t Australians deserve equal treatment?

I am writing to urge you to reform Australian seafood labelling laws to allow me to make an informed choice.

I do not want to purchase seafood which might be unhealthy, caught or farmed using unsustainable fishing methods, or produced under unacceptable labour and human rights conditions. I am also keen to buy local seafood, which in turn supports Australian fishers and their local communities.

Please develop effective laws which require labelling of:

  • — what fish it is
  • — where it was caught
  • — how it was caught or farmed.

Thank you in advance for taking action to give me the simple information I need to make an informed choice when I purchase seafood. Like citizens of the European Union, who already enjoy strong seafood labelling laws, I look forward to new laws that better protect my health and boost the health of our oceans.

Yours sincerely,

You!

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Australians want to buy sustainable, locally caught fish.

While most of us think we're eating Australian seafood, about 72% of what we eat is imported.

Around the globe many fish stocks are declining. Poor practices in some fisheries are threatening fish species, destroying habitats and undermining workers' rights.

Consumer health is at risk. For example some shark species contain high levels of mercury, but because of poor labelling people eat it unaware of the consequences.

Australia's weak seafood labelling laws mean we're eating in the dark.

What's the solution?

Citizens of the European Union already enjoy clear seafood labelling. With better labelling we'll be able to choose sustainable seafood that's good for our health and good for our oceans.

Label My Fish is designed to see new Australian laws requiring more complete and accurate information on seafood labels, in particular:

  • 1 What species of fish it is
  • 2 Where it is from
  • 3 How it was caught or farmed

FishyLeaks

Labelling scam: Barramundi

Like the flathead, barramundi – an Aboriginal word meaning 'large-scaled fish' - has a special place on the public plate. In fact, Australians rate the beautiful barra as their favourite fish in restaurants and about 90 per cent of us believe the barramundi they are consuming is Australian. Yet over two thirds of the barramundi we eat is imported from Asia.

Read more in our background paper

Labelling Scam: Flathead

'Flathead' is as Aussie as a surf on a summer's day. It's popular in fish and chip shops, restaurants and retailed as frozen fillets. But when we buy 'flathead' it may well be an imported South American fish, of a completely different family (Percophis brasiliensis). The imported 'flathead' is much cheaper - up to $20 per kilo less. But there's often no labelling on your pub or fast food menu, or packet of frozen 'flathead', to indicate you're not buying Aussie flathead, but a very different fish caught by bottom trawling in Argentinian waters.

Read more in our background paper

Labelling scam: Pacific Dory

In a clear case of mistaken identity, a number of catfish species, collectively referred to in Australia as 'basa' have long been sold on the Australian market as 'Pacific dory'. This labelling is deceptive – basa are the most widely eaten imported fish in Australia (except for canned tuna), but they aren't related to the dory family and don't look anything like a dory!

Read more in our background paper

Labelling scam: Mercury in fish

While most fish eaten in Australia is low in mercury some has higher and potentially unsafe levels. Too much mercury can harm pregnant women and young children. For this reason government authorities recommend that pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children restrict the amount they eat of certain species, including shark (flake), catfish and orange roughy. If Australians are not told which species they're eating they are unable to act on these kinds of health warnings.

Read more in our background paper

Labelling scam: Orange roughy

'Orange roughy' (Hoplostethus atlanticus) is very sensitive to overfishing, has been overfished in the past and is currently managed under a conservation program in Australia. As a result, environment groups advise against eating it. But conscientious consumers can't do the right thing because it goes by a number of names on restaurant menus, including 'deep sea perch' and 'sea perch'. The lack of one accepted name for the 'orange roughy' species means consumers are left ignorant of the fact they might be eating a fish species now under threat.

Read more in our background paper

Labelling scam: Squid & Octopus

Australian squid and octopus fisheries are generally considered to have healthy stocks, which can be harvested in a way that causes relatively little harm to the environment. But around 80 per cent of the squid and octopus we eat is caught overseas. The product comes from fisheries which are often overfished, subject to inferior fishery management schemes and harvested in a damaging way - squid via trawling and octopus via bottom trawling - leading to bycatch concerns. But can you tell an Australian squid or octopus from its imported cousin?

Read more in our background paper

Labelling scam: 'Butterfish'

Different parts of Australia have different names for the same thing. Australians call 'butterfish' black pomfret, threadfin bream, mulloway, diamondfish, morwong, stargazer, oilfish, escolar and rudderfish depending on where they live. Yet the Australian Fish Names Standard restricts the name 'butterfish' to members of the Scatophagidae family. Other species, including hake, are sold in restaurants as 'butterfish'. Which all sounds a little bit slippery.

Read more in our background paper

Debbie & Glen
Squidfishers
Debbie and Glenn Squidfishers
Clear seafood labelling would support Australian fishers because the public would know if their seafood was caught locally or imported.".
Debbie and Glen Wisby - Aqua Marine Tasmania, Orford TAS
Heidi & Pavo
Tunafishers
Pav the Tunafisher
Giving consumers more information about what fish they're buying and eating will help our oceans and local fishers".
Heidi & Pavo Walker - Walker Seafoods Australia, Mooloolaba QLD
Sarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson NYT bestselling author
Richard Roxburgh
Richard Roxburgh Actor/Director
Laura Wells
Laura Wells Model & Environmental Scientist
Dr Adriana Verges
Dr Adriana Verges Marine Ecologist & Lecturer UNSW
Frank Camorra
Frank Camorra Owner and Executive Chef MoVida
Jeremy Strode
Peter Gilmore Executive Chef of Quay Restaurant
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Mike “McEnearney
Mike McEnearney Executive chef and co-owner of Kitchen by Mike
Maeve O'Meara
Maeve O'Meara Presenter on Food Safari and Director of Gourmet Safaris
Tom Kime
Tom Kime Executive of Fish and Co. Sustainable Seafood Cafe and Author
Dr Chris Fulton
Dr Chris Fulton Biology Research School ANU
Sally Fitzgibbons
Sally Fitzgibbons Pro Surfer
Dr Ana Vila Concejo
Dr. Ana Vila Concejo Academic in Marine Geosciences
Jeremy Strode
Jeremy Strode Executive Chef of Bistrode and The Fish Shop
Hamish McLeay
Hamish McLeay Executive Chef, Bunkers Beach Café
Boris Musa
Boris Musa Managing Director of Mainstream Aquaculture
Hadleigh Troy
Hadleigh Troy Chef/Owner of Restaurant Amuse
Michele Cranston
Michele Cranston Cookbook author and food writer
Serge Dansereau
Serge Dansereau Head Chef of The Bathers Pavillion Restaurant
Jules Crocker
Jules Crocker Director of Cleanfish Australia
Robyn Klobusiak
Robyn Klobusiak Chef and Owner of The Ugly Duck Out
Russell Blaikie
Russell Blaikie Chef, Author and Restauranteur
Alla Wolf
Alla Wolf Taska AM Culinary Director of Lake House
Laura Dalrymple & Grant Hilliard
Laura Dalrymple & Grant Hilliard Owners, Feather & Bone
Ajoy Joshi
Ajoy Joshi Head Chef of Nilgiri's Restaurant
John Newton
John Newton Author and Journalist
Armando Percuoco
Armando Percuoco Chef of Buon Ricordo Restaurant
Steven Snow
Steven Snow Owner and Chef of Fins Restaurant
Michael Milkovic and Michelle Grand-Milkovic
Michael Milkovic and Michelle Grand-Milkovic Owners of Love.Fish Restaurant
Louis Hatzimihalis
Louis Hatzimihalis Commercial Flathead Fisher
Bruce Gibbs
Bruce Gibbs Farmer and Chef of The Lobby Restaurant
Dr Renata Ferrari Legorreta
Dr Renata Ferrari Legorreta Researcher in Spatial Marine Ecology at USYD
Brendan Cato
Brendan Cato Chef of The Farmed Table
Luke Burgess
Luke Burgess Owner and Chef of Garagistes Restaurant
Rodney Done
Rodney Dunn Founder of the Agrarian Kitchen
Adam Liaw
Adam Liaw Author and TV Presenter
Janella Purcell
Janella Purcell Naturopath and Nutritionist
Desiree Allen
Desiree Allen Managing Director of Cone Bay Ocean Barramundi
Brenda Fawdon
Brenda Fawdon Author, Restauranteur, Cooking School Presenter and Chef at Mondo Organics
Oliver Edwards
Oliver Edwards Chef and Founder of GoodFishBadFish
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