Sustainable Seafood


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Sustainable management

Fisheries were once considered inexhaustible and governments actively encouraged fisheries development. As Australia rushed to explore its newly acquired fisheries zone in the late 1970s, the Federal Government gave money to entice people into the fishing industry.

New fisheries are now developed in a very different way, Sainsbury insists.

"Conservative, initial catch limits are put in place and will stay in place until we can improve our estimates." There are now "really clear, agreed up-front rules about how things will be done", he says.

Stricter harvesting rules also set out much more clearly the criteria for limiting fishing in a particular area, or stopping it altogether. There's also a process to assess the risks of target species and the bycatch.

Zoning of fisheries has also been improved. Marine reserves are being used to concentrate stock depletion and seabed damage in some areas, while protecting marine biodiversity, including fish stocks, in others.

In addition to his role on the board of AFMA, Sainsbury is on the Technical Advisory Council of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an independent organisation that assesses fisheries around the world for their sustainability.

"I don't want to paint an overly rosy picture," says Sainsbury. "There are a lot of fisheries that aren't well managed, but there are also ones that are. That's what the MSC is about. MSC recognises and rewards fisheries that are well managed."

The MSC accreditation process considers the sustainability of the stock, the effect of fishing on the marine ecosystem and the management of the fishery (see G6, p72).

The Western Australian rock lobster fishery is one of only 24 fisheries worldwide that has sought and achieved MSC certification. It means that Western Australian rock lobsters can proudly display the blue eco-label from MSC, making it simple for consumers to choose sustainable seafood.

"People are concerned that overfishing is a part of life in Australia. People don't want to be part of it," says Bohm.

"We're at the beginning of what I'd like to call a sustainable seafood revolution. We want people to think about it more, to ask about it."

By asking questions and becoming seafood 'snobs', we can all be part of the sustainable seafood revolution.

Say no to these fish Replace with
Blue Warehou (aka snotty trevally), King George or Sand whiting
Swordfish Skipjack tuna
Commercial Scallop no suggested replacement
Eastern Gemfish (aka hake) bream
Orange Roughy (aka deep sea perch) King George or Sand whiting
Oreo (aka deep sea dory) King George or Sand whiting
Sharks and Rays (aka flake or white fillet) flathead
Silver Trevally (aka white trevally) King George or Sand whiting
Southern Blue-fin Tuna Skipjack tuna
Atlantic Salmon from aquaculture wild Australian salmon
Barramundi from aquaculture wild Barramundi
Mulloway (aka jewfish) from aquaculture wild Mulloway
Snapper (aka red bream) from aquaculture bream
Yellow-tail Kingfish (aka kingfish) from aquaculture wild kingfish

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