Happy Fish was started by volunteer Bondi Beach locals alarmed to discover the extent of fish and ocean ecosystem decline. Fast forward a few years, Happy Fish has developed extensive networks from ocean-to-plate and evolved into a social enterprise committed to creating environmental and social benefits. 100% of profits go to supporting ocean regeneration, research and education
WHAT MAKES HAPPY FISH UNIQUE?
Happy Fish collaborates with a team of leading Australian independent and concerned marine and fisheries scientists, to provide a new benchmark in sustainability assessments to small scale wild catch fisheries and acquaculture. In addition to assessments, the produce is tagged, tracked, and marketed to Sydney markets.
A team of the very best independent marine and fisheries scientists in the country were formed to work with ACF. They reviewed the leading seafood assessments systems around the globe to arrive at a system uniquely suited to Australian conditions and small scale family fishers. The Sustainable Australian Seafood Program (SASAP) was formed. More than sustainability, this is about regenerative fishing practices, with the assessment process is designed to leave each fishery in better place than it was found.
At the core of the SASAP is a new ecological benchmark for seafood sustainability assessments, regarded by many as the gold standard. The result is a scientifically robust, reliable, independent source of information for consumers, chefs and restaurateurs.
All endorsed Happy Fish must meet the SASAP’s stringent criteria.
Assessments are designed for Australia’s unique diverse marine ecosystems, and smaller scale fisheries that make up most of our fisheries but remain relatively unknown. So the SASAP sets about providing baselines to gauge future health and response to fishing as the most reliable way to gauge current and future impacts; to contribute to appropriate fishing policy and guidelines and to know where best to direct regeneration projects and efforts
A species may be sustainably sourced in one locality whilst not meet sustainability criteria in another, so each species is assessed at the fishery and even fisher level for greater accuracy
The scientists and Happy Fish ensure the process is targeted and affordable to facilitate unprecedented access for smaller-scale family fishers to high quality sustainability assessments.
Blockchain tracking creates an unbroken supply chain from the ocean-to-plate, connecting diverse stakeholders and creating transparent seafood supply chains built in trust
Tracking and secure supply chains enables seafood sellers to clearly differentiate their offerings from other seafood sold. This builds reputation and value for those undertaking best practice
Consumers are empowered to verify provenance and sustainability; and call out fishy substitution and foul-smelling play
Creating a community of like-minded individuals from the best in their respective industries, who want to inspire and empower fishers right through to the end consumers to think and act sustainably when sourcing seafood
Like blood is to the body, healthy oceans are critical for the health of the planet. The ocean is quite literally the lungs of the planet with every second breath we take being oxygen it ahs generated, the ocean contains 90% of the planet’s water, is the biggest single source of protein, and plays a vital role in regulating the planet’s climate.
Catastrophic impacts of overfishing, global warming, ocean acidification and plastic pollution are contributing to an alarming decline in ocean ecosystems. Our wild fishery populations have declined by more than 30% over the last 10 years and we import more than 70% of our seafood just to meet local demand.
Where to start with such an unwieldy problem? Fish and sea life are the building blocks of strong, resilient ocean ecosystems. Fishing and plastic pollution are two domains where we can have positive impact in a relatively short space of time.
Happy Fish is unapologetically about making a difference for the environment through regenerative fishing practices. Incidental benefits such as better tasting, longer lasting and healthier fish, are not our primary mission.
It’s tempting to be dismissive and cynical, but well-targeted seafood choices can make a difference. Conscious consumers vote for the way we want fish to be bought, sold and valued.
The Happy Fish Project is building supply chains that empower fishers right through to seafood consumers, to source seafood responsibly. The sum of our individual choices translates as market demand, which is the clearest message to industry that responsibly sourced seafood is also good for business.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE FISH GONE?
Technological breakthroughs emerging from World War II saw the fishing industry expand rapidly around the globe. Fishing fleets could go further, faster, and with the introduction of refrigeration, for longer periods. This growth was largely unregulated, and the result was widespread overfishing.
In the past couple of decades the collapse of fish populations around the globe has led to the realisation that the ocean’s bounty is not infinite.
Nothing like putting your foot in it to start a beautiful relationship. In a discussion about a devastating film on the state of global fisheries, Happy Fish’s founder bemoaned local Council’s environmental inaction in front of an unidentified local Councillor. This Councillor challenged her to ‘walk the talk’ and meet to discuss what was possible. A few months later an alliance of environmentally active locals invited leading seafood industry, restaurateurs and NGOs to meet and discuss: How to make Bondi Beach Australia’s first sustainable seafood destination!?
The marine and fishing world is a polarised minefield of passionate and often divisive positions. Come the night of the meeting, a wild freak storm was an apt reminder of the volatile chemistry of the meeting attendees. But what emerged was an effortless enthusiasm around the simple belief that fishers and fishing industry can best be served by responsible fishing practices.
Many relationships have evolved from this beginning, giving Happy Fish its collaborative form. The marine and seafood community’s passion for the oceans, fish and fishing is rare and infectious. It’s a fascinating ecosystem with fascinating characters, and it is easy to get hooked!
Happy Fish Founder
Happy Fish is a project of not-for-profit Transition Sydney Incorporated