YOU CAN BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
Happy Fish is unapologetically about making a difference for the environment. Collateral benefits such as better tasting, longer lasting and healthier fish, are fortunate, but they are not our primary mission
Ozzies can be proud that our fisheries are amongst the most sustainable in the world. That sounds pretty good until you discover our wild fishery populations have declined by more than 30% over the last 10 years study and we import more than 70% of our seafood just to meet local demand.
It’s tempting to be dismissive and cynical, but well-targeted seafood choices do make a difference. When you experience yourself as a consumer with agency, being part of the solution has a wonderfully empowering and contagious quality. It’s feelgood time!
CONSCIOUS CONSUMERS ROCK!
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 fisher folk right through to seafoodies to source seafood responsibly. The sum of our individual choices translates as market demand, which is the clearest message to industry that good seafood sourcing is good for business.
So here’s an overview of the problems, which is Happy Fish’s raison d’etre, and after that we promise it’s pretty much all downstream Happy Fish tales
This planet is primarily ocean, we live and breathe by its currents and contents. Whether you eat fish, live at Uluru or Bondi Beach; all life is inextricably connected to the ocean. The ocean is quite literally the lungs of the planet with every second breath we take being oxygen generated by it, 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.
Where to start with such an unwieldy problem? Fish and sea life are the building blocks of strong, resilient ocean ecosystems, and fishing and plastic pollution are two domains where we can have positive impact in a relatively short space of time.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE FISH GONE?
The fishing industry cannot be held solely accountable for the decline in fish populations, nor can all fishers be lumped in one basket. However the industry and a relatively unregulated recreational fishing sector, have had a huge impact. 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. While there are many improvements in fisheries management, it will always be a work in progress and its application is not consistent across all sectors
SIZE DOES MATTER! SUSTAINABILITY & QUALITY
You don’t need to sacrifice quality to buy sustainable seafood. In fact there is a strong connection between quality and sustainability. Highly selective Happy Fish criteria encourages ecological stewardship and high quality seafood. Our exemplary fisher folk focus on quality over quantity video
The measure of success is not how much fish is caught, but the quality of their seafood, which helps ensure a decent price, and the knowledge that they leave enough fish to ensure their long term future Happy Fisher’s Pledge
HOW MUCH SEAFOOD IS SUBSTITUTED?
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.
What most agree on is….Australian waters sustain less than 30% of our seafood demand, and per capita seafood consumption and a growing population will in all probability put more pressure on fish populations. Whilst a lot of imported seafood is sustainable and some is traceable, it is inevitable we will unwittingly import environmental problems.
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH FISH ARE SUSTAINABLE?
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 undertakes extensive research to arrive at its seafood endorsements. Our criteria is transparent and available to the public via Happy Fish Assessments. The Happy Fish Directory builds transparency and accountability in the supply chain promoting industry exemplars, from the fishers all the way to the retailers.
We aim to make it as easy for ethically-minded and quality conscious consumers to get the facts and vote with their dollars to support sustainably sourced seafood.
THE FUTURE OF FISH
The aboriginal custodians of this country knew that living in harmony with nature was not only desirable, but essential for survival. Cultivating respect and appreciation for the bounty and fragility of the marine biosphere is more relevant now than ever. Paul Greenberg’s book ‘Four Fish’ puts this in perspective:
If we continue to eat wild fish…we need to find a way of identifying them as wild fish first and food second. Wild fish did not come into this world just to be our food…If we hunt and eat them, we must hunt them with care and eat them with fullness of our appreciation. We must come to understand that eating the last wild food is, above all, a privilege.