IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT FISH
If you closed your eyes and thought about Bondi Beach, you might smell something utterly familiar – fish’n’chips. It’s the quintessential beachside meal, but what if we ran out of fish?
The old assumption that the oceans could cope with whatever we withdraw or deposit is slowly being replaced by awareness of a very different reality: the oceans are in trouble.
UNCONSTRAINED GROWTH HAS PUSHED FISH STOCKS TO THE EDGE
After World War II the fishing industry expanded rapidly all over the world, pushed in many cases by government policies aimed at expanding the supply of food and employment. This growth was largely unconstrained by any ability to control catches and the result was widespread over fishing. In the past couple of decades there has been a growing realisation that fish stocks are not endless but the process of controlling, cutting and/or rebuilding catches is a long and difficult one. Happy Fish and concerned consumers can play a role in this by supporting those that want to fish for the long term.
HOW IS QUALITY RELATED TO SUSTAINABILITY?
You don’t need to sacrifice quality to buy sustainable seafood.
In fact there is a strong connection between quality and sustainability.
When catches are properly controlled the best way for a fisherman to make more money is to ensure is catch is well looked after, and top quality.
Highly selective Happy Fish criteria encourages ecological stewardship and quality seafood.
The Happy Fisher’s Pledge came out of discussion with local family fishermen (fishers).
The fishers emphasised the need to focus on quality over quantity. Their measure of success is not
how much fish is caught, but quality, price and the knowledge that their business has a long term future.
OVER FISHING IS MOSTLY HIDDEN FROM CONSUMERS
Surprisingly, the effects of over fishing and habitat destruction have been nearly invisible to consumers.
When some fishing fleets over-harvest one stock to the brink of extinction, they simply move on to another.
Consumers continue to see plentiful seafood in the shops and this creates the illusion that everything’s okay.
There is a lack of transparency about what fish you are buying.
SEAFOOD HAS A MURKY SUPPLY CHAIN
Seafood is currently caught, bought and sold within largely invisible and complex supply chains.
An Australian study, backed by many anecdotes, indicates that the vast majority of chefs lack confidence in the information about the seafood they are sold, especially its source but also the identity of the species
There are no local studies of Australian seafood substitution, however surveys in the EU and US have repeatedly demonstrated a whopping 30-70% of seafood is substituted ie it is not what it is being sold as.
The ability to authenticate the source of the seafood supplied is central to instilling confidence
in what’s being called ‘sustainable’ for suppliers, restaurateurs as well as customers.
HOW SUSTAINABLE ARE AUSTRALIAN FISHERIES ?
The Australian fishing industry has taken giant strides to rectify a once reckless approach,
but depending on whether you’re talking to scientists, industry, government or recreational fishers
(or a subset of these), you’ll hear very different estimations of just how sustainable our fishing industry is.
According to the most recent (2014/15) assessments of fish stocks in NSW , the sustainability status of 62% of species
is unknown, about 30% are known to be fished at sustainable levels and the remaining 10% are known to be over fished. There remain large holes in the net of knowledge about our oceans and sealife
With Australia’s increasing per capita seafood consumption and a growing population, our waters
sustain less than 30% of local seafood demand, with the remaining 70% imported.
As we cannot ‘sustain’ our increasing appetite for fish, we’re effectively outsourcing sustainability issues to others parts of the globe. Whilst a lot imported seafood is sustainable and traceable,
consumers may be unknowingly importing environmental problems.
HOW CAN WE TELL WHICH FISH ARE SUSTAINABLE IN AUSTRALIA?
If you’re confused about which seafood is best to eat, and which is best avoided, you’re not alone.
Australia is a very big country and the same species may be fished sustainably in one area but not another.
Happy Fish searches all the available information to look for up-to-date and comprehensive information,
to make a judgement about what we believe is sustainable.
WHAT CAN CONSUMERS DO ABOUT IT?
Happy Fish can channel consumer support towards people who do the right thing. Our mantra is to make it as easy as possible for consumers and seafood sellers to get the facts!
Happy Fish builds transparency into the supply chain and shines a light on industry exemplars. This makes it easy for ethically-minded and quality conscious consumers to vote with their dollars to support sustainably sourced seafood.