Experts warn we’re killing our oceans — and it starts with what you eat, Stephanie Bedo, March 12, 2019.
Seafood Industry Australia, the national peak body for the Australian seafood industry, has condemned the “inaccurate and misleading” statements used in a News Corp Australia syndicated article by Stephanie Bedo quoting debunked and inaccurate science, and non-authoritative sources.
“Sadly Ms Bedo appears to have fallen for a ‘good sell’ and not bothered to check the facts for this article,’ Ms Lovell said.
“It appears the age old adage of ‘if it bleeds it leads’ has won again, without so much as a cursory glance over how Australia’s commercial fishing industry is actually managed. Australia’s commercial fishing industry happen to be one of the most sustainable in the world and these incorrect statements unjustly damage the livelihood and reputation of tens of thousands of hard working Australians.
“We are disappointed to see Ms Bedo include reference to a now debunked research paper which incorrectly claimed Australia’s commercial fish-stocks have declined by a third over the last 10 years. These claims were denounced by researchers from the CSIRO earlier this year due to significant problems with the paper’s methodology and blatant factual errors.
“Let us be clear, Australia’s commercial fish-stocks are not in decline. In fact, for the fifth consecutive year Australia’s Commonwealth-managed fisheries have been listed as not subject to overfishing by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). This is something our wild-catch fishers are very proud of, and is unprecedented internationally.
“In addition, the footprint of Australia’s trawlers has been found to be one of the smallest in the world. Coupled with our aquaculture sector – who provide fresh, high-quality seafood, year-round – Australian seafood is one of the best managed and most sustainable protein sources in the world.
“Celebrity Chef Matt Moran incorrectly stated in the article that Flathead is overfished in NSW which has lead to a decrease in availability and an increase in price; however this is simply not the case. All Dusky, Tiger and Blue Spotted Flathead, whether found in NSW, QLD or VIC are all sustainable.”
“A decrease in availability and an increase in the price of Flathead is not because there is ‘none left’ as Mr Moran says. This can be attributed to a number of reasons including the closure of historical fishing grounds which resulted in the significant reduction of the NSW trawler fleet, and the container ship whose cargo went overboard in the waters off Newcastle in June last year, which further reduced access to important Flathead grounds,” Professional Fishermen’s Association CEO Tricia Beatty said.
“Over the last two decades we have seen the NSW trawl fleet reduced to a quarter of its size due to State and Federal Marine Park management plans coming into action which have closed fishing grounds. Such significant losses in the fleet means we simply cannot catch as much as the market demands. When coupled with increased business costs you can see these price increases and the decrease in commercial availability has absolutely nothing to do with the number of Flathead in the sea, or their sustainability.
“In NSW we have a very good understanding of the daily commercial catch of Flathead, and other species, through real-time reporting. Meaning we know everyday what has come out of the water and from where.
“Flathead is a completely sustainable species of fish and continues to be popular among recreational fishers, who reportedly take two to three fish for every one taken commercially.”
“We are disappointed to see the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) touting their ‘seafood guide’ as fact, when in reality they are in no way responsible for the collection, collation or management of data, or the reporting of fish-stock levels for any of Australia’s fisheries,” Ms Lovell said.
“Responsibility for these activities sits with ABARES, who for the fifth consecutive year have endorsed the sustainability of Australia’s Commonwealth-managed fisheries.
“Last week at the ABARES Outlook Conference the 2019 Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports, the most comprehensive guide to the sustainability of our fisheries, was launched. The reports were developed by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation – Australia’s leading, genuinely independent fisheries research body.
“The reports showed 85 per cent of assessed fish stocks to be sustainable. Importantly, the remaining fish stocks have recovery management plans in place to rebuild the stocks. A point Ms Bedo’s story overlooks. And, the seafood species classed as ‘undefined’ is simply because there was not enough catch data to give them a classification.
“More than one hundred Australian fisheries scientists were responsible for producing the report, and a further thirty-five fisheries scientists anonymously reviewed it. Who is academically reviewing the AMCS ‘data’?
“The AMCS has skewed the wording and omitted definitions to make it sound far more ominous than those who take the time to read the report would find it is.
“We applaud the many Australian fisheries who have achieved certification to standards like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), however it is important to remember that the very fact it is Australian seafood means it has been sourced sustainably due to the high level of regulation, reporting and monitoring that underpins our industry.
“In addition, Aussies can now access a free, easy-to-use app of the Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports called ‘SAFS – Sustainable Fish Stocks’. This will allow Aussies on-the-go access to true, correct and authoritative information on the sustainability of Australian fish stocks. Unlike AMCS’s Sustainable Seafood Guide and app which only serve to further their biased scare campaign.
“Finally, the use of an image of dead fish from the Darling River and the Menindee Lakes area, an issue which has absolutely nothing to do with commercial fishing, is ridiculous and serves no purpose other than to conjure fear amongst those who look to news organisations, such as yourself, for truthful, well researched articles.
“As fishers, our priority is the ocean. We advocate the health, sustainability and future of our sea. It’s our livelihood and the future livelihood of generations to come. We dismiss any comments otherwise.”
For more information or to organise an interview with SIA CEO Jane Lovell please contact
Media and Communications Manager Jessica McInerney on
E: email@example.com M: 0420 695 431