There are thousands of fish in Australian waters and even more crustaceans, not to mention the molluscs! Hundreds of these species are of commercial importance and contribute to the multi-billion dollar Seafood Industry. But unlike other food products, Seafood products have been and are still know by numerous names. This has lead to significant confusion for consumers, processors, retailers, producers and managers alike.
The Australian Government is committed to providing safe food, fair trade practices and truth in labelling. The legislated goals say that food standards must be developed to ensure the:
- Protection of public health and safety
- Prevention of misleading or deceptive conduct through improved product identification
- Provision of adequate information, thus enabling consumers to make informed choices
Seafood Services Australia established the Fish Names Committee to progress the development of a National Standard for fish names. Although it is called a “Fish Names Committee”, the Standard will include all commercially important seafood species not just fish!.
The draft Standard is currently being reviewed by Standards Australia. Once the Fish Names Standard is approved by Standards Australia all fish sold will be legally required to display the standard name.
It is critical for consumers and the Australian Seafood Industry to have standard fish names as it will help to ensure:
- Consumer Confidence – you will be sure that you are getting what you paid for. You will also be able to make informed choices related to the fishery, the species or the country of origin.
- Efficiency in seafood marketing – it will be the same fish no matter where you are in Australia.
- Effective species-based fisheries management and sustainability of Australian fisheries resources – which is particularly important for fisheries managed by catch quotas, but also vital for all types of management (e.g. spatial and temporal closures).
- Effective food safety management – standard names will enable a quick and efficient product recall system if required.
- Industry viability and profitability – the Standards will help to ensure that the producers receive a fair price for the product while ensuring consumers are getting what they chose.
The Standard Fish Names are to be used at all points of sale. This means that you should see the same fish name in all your local fish shops and all your favourite seafood restaurants including the fish and chippery! Even wholesale and trade sales are required to display the Standard Fish Names.
If you suspect your seafood supplier is mislabelling seafood report them directly to the Australian Seafood Consumer Hotline 1800 737 147. The Hotline is available 24 hours – 7 days.
To learn more about the Australian Fish Names Standard visit: www.seafood.net.au/fishnames/
To see the draft Standard Fish Names visit: www.seafood.net.au/fishnames/procedures/