‘It’s just not cricket’: Australian seafood industry commends Senate inquiry into faux-meat labelling

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak-body representing the Australian seafood industry, has commended the Commonwealth Senate Inquiry into the labelling of alternative protein products, and highlighted the need to protect the definition of seafood. 

“This inquiry is vital for the animal-based protein industries to protect our name, definitions, brands and integrity systems,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said. 

“We must protect the definition of seafood, and ensure it is only applied to true, aquatic seafood species.

“Misleading origin statements and the subsequent mislabelling of synthetic or plant-based products as actual animal-based protein generates confusion amongst customers and consumers, and undermines the Australian seafood industry, along with the dedication and commitment of fishing families and businesses alike.

“We firmly believe the sale of products marketed as ‘seafood ‘ or associated subspecies, which are in actual fact synthetic or plant-based, threatens the sustainability and commercial viability of not just our businesses, but of the entire animal-based protein sector. 

“More and more of these plant-based products are being sold in supermarkets right around the country and it’s clear their labelling is becoming increasingly deceptive. I know first-hand that consumers find this labelling confusing, particularly older Australians or those with English as a second language. Even we’ve been duped by them, and we know they exist. 

“We’re also concerned consumers could be misled by packaging and labelling that closely resembles established seafood products in the market, like prawns or canned seafood. There are legitimate concerns for consumers with allergies to soy proteins, who seek out seafood only to mistakenly purchase a product that contains something completely different.

“Worse still, these highly processed products don’t have the same nutritional value as our seafood. It needs to be clear that these plant-based products have been heavily manufactured and lack the nutritionally benefits of eating true, honest Australian seafood. 

“We welcome increased consumer competition however it is important it is done in a fair, honest and balanced regulatory environment. We advocate for plant-based proteins to establish themselves in a category of their own. We’ve seen successful category creation in the past with the development of margarine, and the push-back that it could not be branded butter. 

“We respect people’s rights to make choices about what they eat. If you’d rather tofu than Tuna, soy than Salmon, or potatoes over Prawns, then go for it, but don’t tell people they’re eating seafood.

“As an industry, we are world-leaders in sustainable fishing. Consumers and seafood businesses alike are continuing to place a focus and priority on sustainable practices, so it is important our name and products are not compromised by soybeans and other plant-based proteins of mixed origins with varying sustainability credentials. 

“Food traceability, especially seafood traceability, is becoming increasingly important both domestically and internationally as a way to verify both origin and sustainability claims. If we allow for compromise in the name and labelling of protein sources like seafood, this presents great implications for both traceability and origin verification. 

“We know that mislabelled products can significantly devalue our exports. We need to place value in our seafood traceability and sustainability statements, which are key pillars that set Australian agricultural products apart from the rest and underpin confidence in brand-Australia produce. 

“As a country we should be proud of what we produce and how it is marketed. The Australian seafood industry directly supports more than 15,000 Australian jobs, and countless more downstream in transport, logistics, and processing. Australian seafood accounts for 10% of national agricultural production, and contributes $3.5 billion in gross domestic product annually to the Australian economy. We are proud of the contribution we make to the Australian economy and the regional communities where our producers are based each year.  

“The way these products are marketed is becoming un-Australian and don’t pass the pub test. If a product isn’t seafood then it shouldn’t be allowed to be called seafood. Highly-processed plant-based alternatives with their extensive list of additives are a long way from high-quality, natural, one-ingredient-only Great Australian Seafood.

“Truth in labelling is a key issue for the Australian seafood industry, and one that Seafood Industry Australia will continue to advocate for.”

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To deliver a fair and balanced regulatory environment, the Australian seafood industry recommends that:

  •  1. the use of manufactured plant-based protein descriptors cannot contain any reference to seafood or products made predominantly from seafood, including but not limited to “fish”, “tuna”, “salmon”, “prawn” and “seafood”; and 
  • 2. there is no use of seafood related imagery on manufactured plant-based protein packaging or marketing materials.

Submissions to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee inquiry into “Definitions of meat and other animal products” close this Friday, August 13 and the committee is due to present its report on or before the end of February 2022.

For more information please contact Seafood Industry Australia’s Communications and Public Affairs Manager Jessica McInerney jessica@seafoodindustryaustralia.com.au or 0420 695 431.

Seafood industry calls for more research on seismic testing under ‘real-world conditions’

SIA replies to Mark G. Meekana,b,1, Conrad W. Speeda , Robert D. McCauleyc , Rebecca Fishera , Matthew J. Birta , Leanne M. Currey-Randalld , Jayson M. Semmense , Stephen J. Newman f , Katherine Curea , Marcus Stoward , Brigit Vaughana , and Miles J. G. Parsons,  Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) article “A large-scale experiment finds no evidence that a seismic survey impacts a demersal fish fauna” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jul 2021, 118 (30) e2100869118; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2100869118. 

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak-body representing the Australian seafood industry, has called for more research into the impacts of seismic testing on fish stocks following the release of an Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) report which focuses on a singular ground-dwelling fish species. 

“We welcome research on the topic of seismic testing, and this study presents an interesting case, but ultimately it highlights there are significant knowledge gaps and more research under real-word conditions is needed,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said. 

Studies conducted to date generally report fish and marine species are impacted by seismic activities. These impacts have been shown to not only affect commercial catches, but stock sustainability, breeding activity, growth rates, increased mortality, feeding activity, animal health, displacement, and the biodiversity of these important ecological habitats.

“What we have seen in this AIMS study is that the demersal Red Emperor fish located in a small pocket of the tropical shelf in north-western Australia did not appear to immediately respond to mock seismic surveys. However, the cumulative and long-term impacts were not studied. It is these unseen and mostly unknown impacts which are of key concern, and will have lasting impacts to the productivity of our fisheries.

“Importantly, the surveys in the AIMS study were performed at a lower volume than in real-world seismic activities. They were also run for a shorter duration than in the real-world, and conducted in an area that has been subject to multiple seismic surveys over a number of decades. It remains unclear if the fish in this area have become conditioned to these tests, or suffer from long-term impacts due to previous surveys. 

“We appreciate there are conflicting views on the impacts of these surveys on fish fauna and whether they harm a fishery’s commercial viability. Ultimately, it must be understood that irrespective of opinion, the results of a survey conducted under non real-world conditions cannot be extrapolated to the remainder of Australia’s marine environments. Or even the other fish species in the same area. 

“While we welcome the report, it is important to note the study is confined to one particular demersal fish species. It does not take into consideration other tropical demersal fish species in the area like Goldband Snapper or Pink Snapper which similar studies have shown to have considerable impacts from seismic testing. One key difference between these species is they will come up to the surface to feed, rather than the Red Emperor which feeds on the bottom. Among other concerns, this survey does not look at pelagic fish in the area, being the fish which live in the mid-section between the bottom and the top of the water, crustaceans, zooplankton or any other marine animals.

“We are cognisant of other peer-reviewed research into seismic impacts on demersal fish species which have shown profound negative impacts to the fish stocks. Including a Fisheries Research and Development Corporation report from last year which showed a 80-99 per cent decline in the catch rates of flathead and school whiting following seismic testing in the Danish seine commercial fishery off Lakes Entrance. This study was conducted under real-world conditions, and coupled with multiple control sites. 

“A joint study by The University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and Curtin University’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology found juvenile crayfish and puerulus (post larval stage lobsters) could not right themselves after seismic testing, and had slower growth compared to those not exposed to the blast. While adult crayfish were unable to extend their tails which they use to swim. The study also showed an increase in scallop mortality following controlled blasts.

“Importantly, a 2017 study on Zooplankton, which underpin the health and productivity of marine ecosystems globally, found seismic surveys cause significant mortality. This is of great concern as a significant component of zooplankton communities comprises the larval stages of many commercial fisheries species. While other zooplankton support healthy ocean ecosystems.

“As an industry, we appreciate any study that adds to the growing knowledge base and localised data on seismic surveys. However, we remain concerned about the potential of the intense low frequency acoustic signals produced during these surveys to disturb, harm and even kill marine species.

“We advocate for more research, facilitated by oil and gas companies, that looks at different fish stocks, targets different locations and habitats, and explores the use of alternative, less damaging technologies for future surveys.”

Seafood Industry Australia awarded grant to scale up exports

An $888,000 grant from the Australian Government has been awarded to Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) to develop and expand markets for Australian seafood exports.

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud and Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said the grant would develop and deliver the industry’s Export Market Strategic Plan.

“This plan will focus on expanding into new markets, and markets with high growth potential,” Minister Littleproud said.

“A key part of the plan is investigating and analysing new potential markets, such as North Asia, South Asia, the Pacific, Europe and the Americas with rock lobster and abalone a key focus.

“SIA will engage two Trade Export Managers to build capacity for seafood exporters across Australia.

“The grant will also go towards promoting the Great Australian Seafood brand under brand Australia. By working in partnership with Austrade, SIA will assist in the design a promotion schedule for Australian seafood in export markets.”

Assistant Minister Duniam said there was huge growth potential internationally for Australian seafood.

“By building up the Great Australian Seafood brand, we can tell the rest of the world what we already know – that Australian seafood is the best in the world.

“There are swathes of consumers out there who want to enjoy seafood that is sustainably caught, clean and green, and this is an opportunity to connect with them.”

Seafood Industry Australia CEO Veronica Papacosta said a key piece of the program would be the creation of a one-stop-shop for seafood exporters.

“There is a plethora of information, resources and databases out there for seafood exporters, however it can be difficult for producers to keep track of them all and know how to find them,” Ms Papacosta said.

“We are planning to create a digital platform that will curate all the resources in one place. This will allow our producers to focus their time on delivering the world’s greatest seafood to all corners of the globe.

“Importantly, this funding will support whole of industry, regardless of sector or location. It will allow us to immediately put boots on the ground to quickly deliver much needed support to the sectors who need it most.

“We’re grateful for the continued support of the government, and look forward to developing new market opportunities to promote our Great Australian Seafood internationally under the umbrella of brand Australia.”


Fast Facts

 ATMAC grants have been awarded under the Australian Government’s AgriBusiness Expansion Initiative (ABEI).
 The Australian government has invested $72.7 million through ABEI to help Australia’s agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries diversify and expand their export markets.
 The value of Australian seafood production is forecast to be $2.94 billion in 2020-2021 and $3.01 billion in 2021-2022.
 The value of Australian seafood exports is forecast to be $1.34 billion in 2020- 2021.

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For more information or to organise an interview with SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta please contact SIA Communications and Public Affairs Manager Jessica McInernery on jessica@seafoodindustrayaustralia.com.au or 0420 695 431.

SIA Director Nominations open for 2021 AGM

Are you interested in becoming a Director of SIA? Or, do you know an experienced leader who would be the perfect fit? Applications are now open for SIA’s 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) Director rotation.

In accordance with SIA’s Constitution, there will be a rotation and member vote to appoint two (2) Director positions at the AGM to be held on Thursday, September 30, 2021. As such, we are calling for four (4) Director nominees for election, by voting members, to the two (2) open positions. Voting will take place from a pool of all candidates.

Click here to download your copy of the SIA Director Information Kit.

Click here to download your copy of the SIA Director Nomination Form.

Nominations must be submitted via email to Chair of the Nominations Committee, Marshall Betzel, by 5pm AEST on Friday, August 13 via nqtrawlers@bigpond.com.

SIA encourages all members to consider applying, or to nominated an experienced leader for the positions.

Further information on the nomination and selection process can be found in the information kit.

Should you have any questions please contact the Chair of the Nominations Committee, Marshall Betzel via nqtrawlers@bigpond.com.

‘Our priority is the ocean’: Australia’s seafood industry welcomes World Oceans Day

Australia’s seafood industry has welcomed World Oceans Day (Tuesday, June 8), by affirming their commitment to caring for Australia’s oceans, and working with government, scientists and regulators on their shared stewardship.

“As an industry, we are subject to some of the most intensive fisheries management and reporting protocols in the world. As fishers, our priority is the ocean. It’s our livelihood, and the future livelihood of generations to come,” Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) CEO Veronica Papacosta said. 

“Australia’s seafood industry is known for our world leading practices and with the support of the Australian Government we look forward to continuing to advance this position.”

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said that the Morrison Government’s $100 million Oceans Leadership Package would signal an exciting new phase of its commitment to ocean health advancing blue carbon initiatives and marine biodiversity.

“Healthy oceans not only provide a raft of food, recreation and trade services, but also produce 50 per cent of our oxygen, absorb 93 per cent of heat caused by human activity and up to 30 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions,” Minister Ley said. 

“From working with the fishing industry to minimise threatened species interactions, to reduce by-catch and ensure sustainability, to the reconstruction of native shellfish reefs and the everyday things we can all do to keep waste out of our waterways and oceans, today is a chance for everyone to think about the difference they can make,” Minister Ley said.

“Australia’s seafood industry is responsible and produces some of the best seafood in the world,” Ms Papacosta said.

“As an industry we have made a commitment to the people of Australia through ‘Our Pledge’, which responds to issues the community identifies as important, presenting the industry’s actions, position and perspective.

“The initiative has been supported by the Australian Government and Parks Australia through the Our Marine Parks grants, and we are delighted to share two videos showing ‘Our Pledge’ in action as part of the World Oceans Day celebrations. 

“This grant has allowed us to share with the community how as an industry we ‘care for our oceans and environment’, and how we are ‘transparent and accountable for our actions’ via storytelling. The ‘Our Pledge’ campaign is designed to enhance the Australian seafood industry’s position as a trusted, sustainable and prosperous industry.

“For the seventh consecutive year (2020) Australia’s Commonwealth-managed fisheries were given the tick of sustainability. This is something our commercial fishers are very proud of, and is unprecedented internationally. 

“This has been echoed in the release of the Status of Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) reports today, which further demonstrates the sound science that underpins our world-class management. 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.

“Australians can be confident that every time they buy Great Australian Seafood that it comes from well-managed, sustainable fisheries, which ensures that our fish stocks will be around for generations to come.”

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Please click here to access a copy of the Our Marine Parks – Our Pledge videos and still images. 

For more information or to organise an interview with SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta please contact 

Seafood Industry Australia, Media and Communications Manager Jessica McInerney

E: jessica@seafoodindustryaustralia.com.au M:  0420 695 431

‘Batter up’: Great Australian Fish and Chip Awards to return in 2021

In celebration of International Fish and Chip Day this Friday, June 4, Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) has announced the Great Australian Fish and Chip Awards will return in 2021. 

“We are excited to take over the leadership and management of the annual awards from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) who established them in 2017,” SIA Communications Manager Jessica McInerney said. 

“The much loved awards will be renamed The Great Australian Fish and Chip Awards, to align with the industry’s brand, Great Australian Seafood, which was launched last year as a COVID-19 recovery response. 

“The awards were not held last year due to COVID, however they’ll be back up and running, and batter (sic) than ever in 2021. The FRDC has done a wonderful job establishing them for industry, and we thank them for their hard work.

“The Great Australian Fish and Chip Awards will continue the search for Australia’s best fish and chips. The national competition is set to kick off on October 19 to celebrate International Seafood Day, with the national winner announced in December. 

“In every town, across every state and territory, people spruik their fish and chips as number one, so let’s put them to the test.

“We’re in the process of finalising the details of this year’s awards to ensure they can go ahead in a COVID-responsible manner. But, what I can tell you is we’ll be looking for proper country of origin labelling on menus – close to 70% of seafood eaten in Australia is imported so it’s important we get consumers asking for Aussie seafood. 

“We want to see fish species labelled and identified correctly as according to the Fish Names Standards. And most importantly, we are looking for crisp, golden fish batter or crumbing, and crunchy, creamy fries with just the right amount of salt. 

“There might even be bonus points for shops using some of our underutilised, but just as tasty, species on their menus. Things like Oceanjacket, Black Bream, Boarfish or Mackerel. 

“The 2019 fry-off reeled in more than 100,000 votes, across 800 stores, and this year we have our sights set on more. People will have a chance to mullet (sic) over their favourite store ahead of the October voting kick-off. 

“Friday nights have long been the one day Aussie’s share fish and chips with the fam, so today, on International Fish and Chip Day, we encourage everyone to take the night off from the kitchen, support their local takeaway store and fishers, and enjoy some Great Australian Fish and Chips. It might not be glamorous, but it sure is delicious.” 

For more information on the Awards go to www.fishandchipsawards.com.au 

The 2020-110: Fish and Chips Awards 2021 is supported by funding from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation on behalf of the Australian Government

Great Australian Fish and Chip Awards 2019 winners

National Judged Winner

  • QLD –  Tobin Fish Tales, Townsville 

State and Territory Judges Choice Award Winners

  • NSW – Pelican Rocks Seafood Restaurant and Café, Greenwell Point
  • NT –     Frying Nemo Fish and Chippery, Darwin 
  • QLD – Tobin Fish Tales, Townsville
  • SA –     Stunned Mullet, Henley Beach and Fish Out of Water, Hyde Park
  • TAS –   Mures Lower Deck, Hobart
  • VIC –   The Golden Flake, St Leonards 
  • WA –   Ocean and Paddock, Albany

State and Territory People’s Choice Award Winners

  • NSW – Pelican Rocks Seafood Restaurant and Café, Greenwell Point
  • NT –     Frying Nemo Fish and Chippery, Darwin
  • QLD – Costa’s Seafood Cafe, Capalaba
  • SA –     Dolphin Fish Shop and Take Away, Netley
  • TAS –   Fraggles Fish and Chips, Launceston 
  • VIC –   Trident Fish Bar, Queenscliff
  • WA –    Pinjarra Fish and Chips, Pinjarra

Have a browse through the top 40 People’s Choice for each state and territory hereClick here to find a Great Australian Fish and Chip shop near you.