‘A testament to industry’: Australian seafood given sustainability tick for eighth consecutive year

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak-body representing Australia’s commercial fishing industry, has welcomed the release of the Fishery status reports 2021. The reports show for the eighth consecutive year none of Australia’s Commonwealth-managed fisheries have been subject to overfishing, and Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna stocks have been reclassified as not overfished

“This is monumental news which is unprecedented internationally and the Australian seafood industry couldn’t be any prouder,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said. 

“Australia’s commercial fishing industry is one of the most sustainable protein sources in the world, and these reports are a celebration of our country’s seafood industry and the well-managed, sustainable fisheries that supply all of our favourite seafoods.

“The reclassification of Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna stocks is wonderful news, and a testament to the fishery’s robust management plans and industry’s effort to rebuild stocks.” 

“The reports found that none of the stocks in fisheries solely managed by the Australian Government were classified as subject to overfishing,” Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said in a statement

“Fisheries continue to play an important role in Australia’s primary production success story, and sustainable management means we can ensure that continues well into the future. Southern bluefin tuna stock biomass has increased, largely thanks to global management arrangements which have set in place total catch limits that allowed the stock to rebuild.

“The Morrison Government will always be a strong supporter of our sustainable fisheries sector so that it can continue to deliver quality seafood to Australian customers and export it around the world.”

“We know Australians love to eat Australian seafood, and if you want to be certain you’re eating sustainable, healthy, world-class seafood that’s good for you and good for the planet, always ask for Aussie seafood whether you’re at the fishmonger, fish and chip shop, or the local takeaway restaurant,” Ms Papacosta said.

“The Fishery status reports 2021 reaffirms that Australians can be proud of their seafood industry which provides fresh, high-quality seafood, year-round.

“We acknowledge of the 100 fish stocks assessed, 66 were not overfished and not subject to overfishing, while the remaining stocks are either not subject to overfishing and have active rebuilding strategies, which in the case of Southern Bluefin Tuna have been seen to be very successful, or the catch effort is too low for necessary data to be available. 

“As fishers, our priority is the ocean. We advocate the health, sustainability and future of our ocean. It’s our livelihood and the future livelihood of generations to come.”

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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 McInerney

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

SIA announces appointment of Catherine Sayer and Stephanie Kaparos to Board of Directors

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak body representing the Australian seafood industry, has announced the appointment of Food SA CEO Catherine Sayer and Clamms Seafood CEO Stephaine Kaparos to their Board of Directors. 

“Following our 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and on behalf of the SIA Board, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Catherine Sayer and Stephanie Kaparos to the SIA Board of Directors,” SIA Chair Chauncey Hammond said. 

“We look forward to their contribution to both SIA and the interests of the broader Australian seafood industry over the years to come.”

“I have been involved in the seafood industry for many years across many sectors and in many roles – as an industry representative, in fisheries management and on government boards and committees,” Ms Sayer said. 

“The South Australian seafood industry is a critical sector in our state and I am really looking forward to being on the SIA Board to support the whole of the seafood industry nationally.

“Being the CEO of Food South Australia, I have over 10 years experience in managing a peak body and I look forward to providing meaningful input into further building on the success of SIA.”

“I am thrilled to have been selected to join the SIA board,” Ms Kaparos said. 

“I’d like to thank SIA and the seafood community for supporting my nomination. It is a privilege to be elected as a Director, I appreciate your confidence in me in working towards achieving the strategic vision and furthering the success of SIA.

“I look forward to contributing my wealth of knowledge and experience, particularly in the post-harvest sector to provide a practical and pragmatic approach to SIA and the broader industry.”

“I would also like to take the opportunity to again thank SIA Deputy Chair Marshall Betzel and Belinda Wilson as they step away from their SIA Board positions for their contribution over the past four years. Without them, we would not be where we are today,” Mr Hammond said. 

“The calibre of candidates for the Election of Directors was exceptional and I would like to thank everyone who applied. For such a young association we realise how fortunate we are to have such support and interest.”

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For more information please contact SIA Communications and Public Affairs Manager Jessica McInerney e: jessica@seafoodindustryaustralia.com.au or m: 0420 695 431.

‘Crucial lifeline’: Australia’s seafood industry welcomes Ag Visa

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak body representing the Australian seafood industry, has welcomed the creation of the Australian Agriculture Worker Visa (Ag Visa), which has been developed to address labour shortages in the agriculture sector brought on by international border closures.

“The Australian seafood industry welcomes the creation of the Federal Government’s Ag Visa,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said.

“The Australian seafood industry has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring necessary border closures. Most notably through an inability to access the foreign labour market. Which, like other primary producers around the country, our sector is underpinned by. 

“Importantly, the visa will be available to the whole of agriculture including fisheries, forestry and agricultural processing sectors and will target seasonal, skilled and semiskilled workers. With the ability for them to move between locations to follow the seasonality of sectors. 

“We are optimistic the visa will provide a solution to the ongoing, severe labour shortages being faced by the broader ag industries, and provide a crucial and timely lifeline to the Australian seafood industry. 

“The consequences of the current labour shortage cannot be understated. A lack of access to on-water crews has left many fishing vessels tied up at the wharf and unable to operate for two to three months at a time. Aquaculture farms have been unable to meet productivity targets and manage growth without access to a skilled workforce. While the post-harvest sector’s workloads are becoming unmanageable for current workers. Quite simply, without access to forgein labour the industry would not be able to continue in its current form. 

“Despite high unemployment rates in Australia, and the displacement of workers in tourism 

and hospitality sectors, the seafood industry has remained unable to attract more of the local skilled labour market due to the nature of the work, and as such we rely on international labour.

“We see this visa as an extension of the strides made under the Pacific Labour Mobility, with broader access and more opportunities. We applaud this commitment from the Australian Government and we look forward to continuing discussions on how the visa will assist in a pathway to permanent residency. 

“The Ag Visa will provide a long-term, reliable workforce for our commercial seafood sector, allowing us to continue to put our Great Australian Seafood on tables around the country, and internationally,  for generations to come. 

“We’d like to acknowledge the hard work of the industry members who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes and alongside the government to develop this visa.”

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

Australia’s seafood industry welcomes aquaculture MoU

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak body representing the Australian seafood industry, has welcomed today’s announcement from the Assistant Minister for Fisheries Jonno Duniam and Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water Guy Barnett of a framework to deliver offshore aquaculture in the Commonwealth waters off Tasmania.

“Today, Assistant Minister Duniam and Minister Barnett met in Launceston to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Australian and Tasmanian governments to help examine the economic, environmental and operational feasibility of aquaculture operations in the waters off Tasmania, and the Australian seafood industry has welcomed this agreement” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said.

“Aquaculture is now the largest sector of the Australian seafood industry, accounting for 51 per cent of GVP. The sector is currently worth $1.6 billion nationally, and is forecast to grow both domestically and internationally. 

“Currently, aquaculture in Australia is operated in state or territory waters, however by moving these operations offshore – more than three nautical miles – we can harness recent technological improvements and investigate the potential environmental and resource access benefits available in these deeper waters. By going offshore, the Australian Government is backing the sector’s growth towards the $100 billion Ag2030 goal.

“The expansion of aquaculture into Commonwealth waters has been a long-held commitment of the Government. One that was first tabled in the 2017 National Aquaculture Strategy, and SIA welcomes this important step to delivering on that commitment. 

“The investigation  will include a time-bound trial to examine the feasibility of undertaking aquaculture activities in open, deeper waters. The trial will be led by the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), an independent not-for-profit company funded under the Australian Government’s CRC Program. Interested stakeholders will be consulted on the details of the trial, including its location, prior to the commencement of operational activity.

“The outcomes of the trial will form the basis of a national approach, with all states and territories, for realising the long-held objective of allowing for offshore aquaculture in the open, deeper waters managed by the Commonwealth.

“We applaud this commitment from the Australian and Tasmanian governments to support our aquaculture sector who continue to to set international benchmarks by providing fresh, high-quality, sustainable seafood year-round, while meeting and exceeding regulatory requirements. We look forward to working with the governments to further our world-leading sector. 

“We’d like to acknowledge the hard work of the industry members who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes and alongside the government to develop this MOU.”

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SIA Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Jessica McInerney

E: jessica@seafoodindustryaustralia.com.au

M: 0420 695 431

Australian seafood industry welcomes IFAM extension

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak-body representing the Australian seafood industry, has welcomed news the Federal Government will extend the International Freight Assistance Mechanism until June 2022. 

“On behalf of our members and the entire Australian seafood industry, SIA would like to thank the Federal Government for extending the IFAM until June 2022,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said. 

“The $260.9 million extension will allow Australia’s wild-catch fishers and aquaculturists to deliver an estimated $3 billion worth of produce to key international markets including Japan, Singapore and Korea.

“The IFAM extension will provide market certainty to our exporters who rely on air freight, and will help protect jobs in the wild-caught and aquaculture sectors, and countless more positions downstream in postharvest, freight and beyond.

“Since the IFAM was first announced in March 2020 it has kept our seafood industry connected to our international customers, which not only secures the future of businesses and jobs, but cements our reputation as a reliable trading partner long after COVID-19 has passed.

“Typically Australian seafood exports are carried in the cargo hold of commercial aircraft, but with few international passenger flights under COVID-19 restrictions the majority of outbound flights were cancelled which saw our transport routes disappear. 

“Restoring these supply chains has been vital to industry maintaining relationships with customers around the world, so we can continue to deliver our high-quality Australian seafood to every corner of the globe long after IFAM ends and COVID-19 has passed. 

“The IFAM has provided an export-lifeline to industry nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, without it our industry would not be where we are today. 

“The Coalition has provided unwavering support for the Australian seafood industry throughout the COVID-19 economic crisis. SIA, on behalf of our members and the entire Australian seafood industry, has extended thanks to Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment the Hon. Dan Tehan,  Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, Assistant Minister for Fisheries Senator Jonno Duniam and the entire Coalition for this extension, for helping to keep Australian seafood businesses and jobs afloat, and our Great Australian Seafood on the tables right around the world. 

“We’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of Seafood Trade Advisory Group, Tassal, and all members of the Australian seafood industry who have worked tirelessly with the government to help secure this support extension.”

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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 McInerney

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

‘A bright future’: Aquaculture Australia’s largest seafood sector

Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the national peak-body representing Australia’s commercial fishing industry, has welcomed the release of the Australian fisheries and aquaculture statistics 2020, which has shown aquaculture is now the largest sector of the domestic seafood industry.

“It’s no secret it’s been a hard 18 months for the Australian seafood industry, however the release of this report shows the industry is steadily moving forward and that needs to be celebrated ,” SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said. 

“Australia’s aquaculture sector maintained steady growth, with the sector’s GVP growing 10 per cent in 2019−20. This growth can be largely attributed to Tasmania’s growing Atlantic Salmon industry, which is now worth 35 per cent of national fisheries and aquaculture GVP. Our aquaculture sector has a bright future as it continues to set international benchmarks by providing fresh, high-quality, sustainable seafood year-round, while meeting and exceeding regulatory requirements. 

“The report’s figures show the clear impacts industry has experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic with restrictions to the foodservice operations and international trade. We know these figures will be more pronounced in future reports, when the full impact of the ongoing trade rift with China will be seen. The current report has noted a decrease in the exports of rock lobster and abalone which were down 8 per cent to $1.41 billion over the period. 

“Domestically we saw a decrease in seafood consumption to 12.4kg per person, down from 13.5kg per person in 2018–19. This figure includes imported seafood products which accounted for 62 per cent of consumption, down from 66 per cent in previous years. Domestic seafood consumption volumes at a per-person-level are still well ahead of lamb, and the decrease is likely brought about by changes to consumer seafood purchasing behaviours aligned to COVID-19 restrictions and the changes to foodservice operations; where we know the majority of seafood is consumed. 

“We know Australians love to eat Australian seafood, so if you want to be certain you’re eating sustainable, healthy, world-class seafood that’s good for you and good for the planet, always ask for our Great Australian Seafood whether you’re at the fishmonger, fish and chip shop, or the local Thai restaurant.

“Independent information on the true sustainability of Australian seafood is now more accessible than ever thanks to the free, easy-to-use app of the Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports called ‘SAFS – Sustainable Fish Stocks’. This allows Aussies on-the-go access to true, correct and authoritative information on the sustainability of Australian fish stocks.

“As fishers, our priority is the ocean. We advocate the health, sustainability and future of our ocean. It’s our livelihood and the future livelihood of generations to come.”

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Stay Afloat Queensland: New program launches to help Queensland commercial fishers build resilience

Joint media release from the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities The Honourable Mark Furner, and Seafood Industry Australia

The Palaszczuk Government is backing Queensland’s commercial fishers with a $59,000 investment towards a nationally-recognised resilience and wellbeing program.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner announced the Queensland Government would contribute $59,000 for Seafood Industry Australia’s ‘Stay Afloat’ program.

“Our commercial fishers face an incredible number of challenges as they work every day to put Queensland-caught seafood on our tables,” Mr Furner said.

“I commend Seafood Industry Australia for its outstanding ‘Stay Afloat’ initiative which makes the welfare of our commercial fishers the highest priority.”

Seafood Industry Australia CEO Veronica Papacosta thanked the Queensland Government for the funding, which will allow the organisation to deliver much-needed support to Queensland’s hardworking fishers.

“Research has shown Australia’s commercial fishers experience twice the base-rate of psychological stress than the general population, and this is not okay,” Ms Papacosta said.

“This funding from the Queensland Government will allow us to extend our industry-specific mental health pilot program, ‘Stay Afloat’ into Queensland, building on our three existing locations in New South Wales, Victoria and Darwin which are funded under the Australian Government’s Mental Health Program.” 

‘Stay Afloat’ Program Manager Jo Marshall said the specialised program is designed to connect fishers with existing services while creating networks of support on the ground in their fishing communities.

“Our group of trusted advocates will provide industry with information and referrals to local support services, and coordinate activities to build awareness of and reduce the stigma of mental illness within their communities,” Ms Marshall said.

“So far, our pilot program trusted advocates have recorded more than 500 interactions with industry, so we know the need for this type of service is there.

“We understand the pressures our fishers face are unique to industry, and a third of fishers who were suffering psychological stress said they hadn’t reached out for support because they didn’t feel health professionals would understand the pressures of the fishing industry.

“Whilst it is incredibly important we find immediate and appropriate support for people in crisis, we will equally be working towards providing people with a better understanding of prevention and wellness activities. Just like our physical health and wellbeing, our mental health and wellbeing can be cared for in an effort to prevent illness.”

Queensland Seafood Marketers Association President Marshall Betzel welcomed the expansion of the ‘Stay Afloat’ program to Queensland.

“The Queensland Seafood community has faced its fair share of hardships over the last few years, from the impacts of Covid-19 to floods and drought, you can see it’s taking a toll on people. I am glad this program has arrived,” Mr Betzel said.

“Like seafood communities across Australia, there is stress and anxiety related to the variable nature of the industry, uncertainty about future regulation changes and access to fishing grounds.

“Fishers are an incredibly tough bunch, and we know many don’t know how to recognise or start to address their mental wellness.

“Talking about mental health isn’t always the easiest conversation to have, but it is an important conversation to have. We need to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of poor mental health, and start building a network of support.”

The ‘Stay Afloat’ program has been developed to help break the stigma associated with poor mental health within the commercial seafood industry, develop a network of trusted industry advocates who fishers can reach out to and find support, and educate primary healthcare networks about industry pressures.

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For information about ‘Stay Afloat’, visit  www.stayafloat.com.au.

If you, or someone you know needs help contact a crisis helpline:

  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
  • MensLine -1300 78 99 78 
  • If there is immediate danger please call 000 or visit your nearest hospital emergency department. 

Australians being duped by plant-based labelling

Joint media statement from Australia’s Meat, Poultry and Seafood Industries

Research published today, shows the majority of Australians are being tricked by misleading plant-based protein packaging, and 73 per cent believe clearer labelling standards need to be introduced.

A national survey of 1,000 Australians has revealed six-in-10 consumers would be duped by the current packaging of plant-based protein which is allowed to be disguised as meat. While close to 75 per cent believe plant-based proteins should not be able to be described as meat, despite current legislation allowing this practice.

In an Australian first, the representative bodies for the nation’s meat, poultry and seafood industries have united to call for truth in labelling for plant-based protein products, that misleadingly use meat and seafood terms and imagery in their labelling and advertising.

Australians are being misled by manufactured plant-based protein packaging, and we believe clearer labelling standards must be introduced to address this,” a spokesperson for the group said.
“Concerningly vulnerable Australians are disproportionally impacted by misleading plant-based protein labelling with elderly, those with English as a second language, and low-income consumers more likely to mistake the products.

“With a Senate inquiry underway into how these plant and synthetic proteins can use the term and imagery of meat on their packaging, it’s important we bring this to people’s attention.

“The fact these heavily processed products which are primarily manufactured overseas or made from imported ingredients are allowed to be labelled as Australian meat or seafood is shameful.

“This independent research shows consumers have had enough. They want clearer standards to ensure truth in labelling for plant-based products, and so do we.

“More than half a million Australians collectively work together across the nation’s meat, livestock and seafood industry supply chains to deliver the safest and most nutritious natural proteins to Australian families.” 

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

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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 McInerney on jessica@seafoodindustryaustralia.com.au or 0420 695 431.