YOU CAN BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
Fish and sea life are the building blocks of strong, resilient ocean ecosystems. Ozzies can be proud that our fisheries are amongst the most sustainable in the world. That sounds pretty good until you discover wild fishery populations have declined by more than 30% over the last 10 years(hyperlink:https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aqc.2934), and we import more than70% of our seafood just to meet local demand.
Conscious consumers vote for the way we want fish to be bought, sold and valued. 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. The Happy Fish Project is building supply chains that empower fisher folk right through to seafoodies to source seafood responsibly.
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? In two domains where we all can make a positive difference in a relatively short space of time: fishing and plastic pollution
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. On the back of technological breakthroughs emerging from World War II, the fishing industry expanded 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 (link to GLF 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
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.