Category Archives: Odd Spot

Flake Fake Cops a Battering

14th February 2019

The Southern Shark Industry Alliance (SSIA) represents operators and quota holders in the Commonwealth managed gillnet, hook and trap (GHaT) sector, a sector in the larger fishery that also encompasses the trawl fishery.  SSIA recently wrote to a large number of fish and chip shops across Australia.

The letter explained to these selected shops that the Australian Fish Naming Standard sets down that “flake”, a name synonymous with high quality fresh fish in south-eastern Australia, should only be used for Australia’s gummy (Mustelus antarcticus) shark and NZ’s rig (Mustelus lenticulatus). 

The letter went on to explain that the Australian Consumer Law sets down that it is illegal to engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive.  SSIA believe that substituting other fish and calling it flake is likely to constitute such behaviour.  The letter explained that the ACCC has vast investigative and infringement powers and can take proceedings in Court against this misleading and deceptive conduct.  Judges can issue fines as much as $500,000 per offence for individuals or $10,000,000 for Corporations for each offence.  The ACCC can also issue infringement notices for as much as $2,520 per offence for individuals and $12,600 per offence for a Corporation.

The letter went on to say that the SSIA has begun a process of investigation in which the results from samples of “fake flake” that prove not to be one of the two allowed species will be passed to the ACCC.

The SSIA has offered to assist any fish and chip shop owner who is unclear on the rules and SSIA can be contacted by email here.

As an example of how bad fish labelling has become in Australia the image shown is from the front of a fish shop that does not sell ANY Australian fish.

Autonomous saildrones out and about

23rd May 2018

Through the GipNet Environmental Monitoring Research Initiative, CSIRO are trialing the use of a saildrone, a type of Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) to collect a range of oceanic data in Bass Strait.

The saildrones are controlled remotely through satellite communications and are powered by wind and solar. They are also equipped with navigation lights, radar reflectors and an Automated Identification System (AIS) beacon to help prevent collisions. The saildrones are approximately 7m in length and 4m in height and have an average speed of around 3 knots (max 8 knots).

They have been equipped with advanced monitoring technology, capable of measuring a range of parameters include carbon dioxide levels in the water. Data collected is being sent back CSIRO researchers in near real time.

The saildrones are designed to travel anywhere in the ocean. Vessel controllers simply plug in coordinates of the area to be monitored and the saildrone makes its way there using its ‘sail.’ Monitoring and communications are powered by an inbuilt solar unit. Each vessel can stay offshore for extended period of time (up to twelve months) without returning to land.

A saildrone is being trailed in Bass Strait to test a range of sensors that ensure this type of platform is reliable, durable and accurate for future monitoring of ocean properties and proposed carbon storage sites. If you see a saildrone, marine users are asked to stay 500m away from the system.

For further information  visit, call the GipNet team on 0467-003122 or watch the video below.


Australians eating more sugar than fish…

23rd February 2018

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that in 2011/12, Australians consumed an average of 60 grams of free sugars per day (equivalent to 14 teaspoons of white sugar).   The majority of this (52 grams) from added sugars with the remainder being ‘free’ sugars from things like honey and fruit juice.  Frighteningly, this equates to 22kg of sugar per annum.  The World Health Organisation recommends that sugar intake be less than half this at 25g or six teaspoons per day.

At the same time Australia’s per capita seafood consumption has increased to 53 grams per day (19.7kg per annum).  Australia’s Heart Foundation recommends two to three seafood meals a week[1].   19.7kg per person per annum is almost 400g a week.  This is perhaps 1.5 meals a week so most people need to almost double their fish intake.

Fish is high in important nutrients such as iodine and various vitamins and minerals.  It is high in protein.  Fatty fish contains fat soluble vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids[2][3][4][5].  Observational studies have shown that people who eat fish regularly seem to have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and death from heart disease and  even slow rates of cognitive decline[6].   Fish consumption is linked with lowered rates of depression[7] and asthma[8] in children.  Vision[9] and sleep[10] can also improve with seafood consumption.

On the other hand, the white death (sugar) is empty calories.  It contains no proteins, no essential fats and no vitamins or minerals.  It is bad for your teeth.  Fructose (a type of sugar) can be bad for your liver.  There are proven linkages between sugar consumption and diabetes.  It is linked with cancer.  Recent research shows that it  has fat-promoting effects and also suggests that it isn’t saturated fat that drives heart disease, but in fact sugar.

Most of us know all this so why do we like it so much when we know it is so bad for us?  Because it is highly addictive.   So yourself a favour and eat more fish starting tonight, but not chocolate fish.












Bogus Bream

22nd December 2017

A company has successfully applied to trademark the name ‘Kariba Bream’ for an imported species with IP Australia.

IP Australia is the Australian Government agency that grants intellectual property (IP) rights and legislation relating to patents, trademarks and designs.  IP Australia’ vision is to have a world leading IP system that “builds prosperity for Australia”.

Fish Names Australia operate the Fish Naming Standard.  Bream is a diverse group of fishes so this list contains 51 different species that can use the name bream.  Kariba Bream is not even on the list yet alone one of the species allowed to be called bream.  Kariba Bream is unrelated to other breams.

The importer Fisher Direct states on its website that they chose the name Kariba Bream because in Africa it is called this.  However, an ABC investigation has determined that the fish is from Indonesia.

Image: Tilapia farming in Indonesia

Fish Names Australia have contacted IP Australia.  IP Australia have explained that they do not generate a list of pending applications so stakeholders like the fishing industry would need to regularly work through the trademarks database using relevant keywords.  IP Australia will not agree to contact Fish Names Australia in the future about fish applications.  Fish names Australia regularly communicate their pending applications outward in an effort to get the most sensible outcomes.

Kariba Bream is actually tilapia.  There is no attempt to hide this on Fisher Direct’s website.

The NSW Department of Primary Industry website explains that tilapia are listed in the top 100 of the world’s worst introduced species and are a class 1 noxious fish in all waters of NSW. Possession and sale of live tilapia is prohibited with penalties of up to $55,000 for sale. Tilapia pose a significant threat to native fish species and aquatic habitats of NSW.

Unlike real bream, tilapia contains very little omega-3 oil.  Omega-3 is found in wild caught marine fish and has numerous health benefits.

The Seafood Industry’s peak body, Seafood Industry Australia, has taken on this fight.  SIA’s CEO Jane Lovell says that the decision is, “beyond belief”.  Ms. Lovell has raised the issue with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science without response.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACC) can take action against companies if they engage in the misleading use of trademarks, even after their approval.  SETFIA hopes that the ACC are investigating.

Tony’s pink ling with a kick

22nd December 2017

SETFIA is encouraging all Australians to enjoy locally sourced, fresh, sustainable seafood this festive season. So, to provide inspiration for your holiday menus we asked Tony Guarnaccia, a fisherman and SETFIA member, to share his favourite seafood recipe with us.

Tony’s pink ling with a kick


  • 2 medium sized fillets of fresh Australian pink ling, skinned
  • 1tsp dry oregano
  • 1tsp dry basil
  • ½ tsp of curry powder
  • 100g dry fish batter mix (such as Kook-A-Krumb golden fish batter)
  • 100g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • Good quality olive oil for frying


1.Combine all the dry ingredients in a freezer bag and mix.

2.  Cut the pink ling fillets into 8cm long pieces. Cut the thicker fillets into thinner layers trying to create equally sized pieces to ensure that they cook evenly.

3.  Add the pink ling pieces to the bag with the dry ingredients and shake vigorously to ensure each piece is coated with the dusting mixture evenly.

4.  Meanwhile, add a layer of good quality olive oil and a little butter to a frying pan and put on a medium heat.

5.  Once the pan is hot add the pink ling fillets, shaking off any excess dusting mixture as you go.

6.  Fry the pink ling fillets on both sides until they are golden brown in colour.

7.  Plate up and enjoy!

Fishy Business in the South China Sea

22nd December 2017

The South China Sea (SCS) is a 3.2 million square kilometre sea at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  It is bordered by Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Given its location and proximity to so many countries, the SCS is a gateway for a significant amount of the world’s commercial merchant shipping and an estimated A$5 trillion in global trade passes through the region each year. Even non-bordering countries like Japan and South Korea rely heavily on the SCS for their supply of fuels and raw materials and as an export route.

The map below shows various territorial claims in the SCS.

Additionally, the SCS contains lucrative fisheries that are crucial for the food security of millions in Southeast Asia, and it is also believed that large oil and gas reserves lie beneath its seabed. It is therefore no surprise that it is also an area of constant maritime and territorial disputes that have been a source of longstanding tension that has recently reached new heights.

The current round of tensions in the SCS started in 2008 with a stand-off between China and the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal, a reef that is claimed by both countries. In 2012, China gained control over the structure which was subsequently disputed by the Philippines at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea. In 2014, more disputes occurred between China and Vietnam over the Paracel and then the Spratly Islands when China started oil drilling, large-scale port construction and installation of military-capable infrastructure in areas that are subject to overlapping claims by multiple nations.

The image below is shows China’s transformation of an island in the SCS.






Although the popular belief has been that the conflicts in the SCS are driven by the competing need to access the oil and gas reserves that are believed to exist, the real instigator may be the fisheries resources in the area. The SCS is home to some of the world’s richest reef systems and over 3,000 indigenous and migratory fish species, comprising some 12 percent of the total global fish catch. Its fisheries are a vital source of protein to the more than 270 million people that live along its coast.

However, some believe that the fisheries resources of the SCS are being depleted at an unsustainable rate through over exploitation and habitat degradation and loss. A study by Ussif Rashid Sumaila and William W. L. Cheung predicts that key fish stocks will decline by 50% (as measured by catch) by 2045. Unsustainable and destructive fishing methods and gears are being used to maintain high catch rates and increase incomes in the short-term. The importance of fishing to China’s economy and the exponential growth in its fish consumption and therefore demand means that the situation may only get worse as the various nations that fringe the SCS continue to compete for a drastically dwindling resource.

As a large net importer of seafood, Australia will not be immune from the fallout from the tension brewing in the SCS as it relies on a number of the countries that border the SCS for its seafood supply.

It is also worth noting that Australian fisheries like the South East Trawl are recognised as some of the best managed in the world. Restrictions on the amount of fish that can be caught, the total number of boats that can fish, the type of gear that can be used and sustainable quotas ensure that fish stocks are exploited sustainably.

The global food challenge means that Australia has a roll to play in global food security.  Australian decision makers must consider this when making decisions that transfer the resource from a source of food.

Fin Fingers?

12th September 2016

Contemporary understanding was that an ancient group of fishes called jawless fishes (which still exist today) evolved into five different groups of fishes these being; placoderms (now extinct), spiny sharks (also extinct), fin-ray fishes (modern fishes), cartilaginous fishes (sharks and rays) and lobe-fin fishes.  One group, the lobe-ray fishes evolved into tetrapods that became the land animals like mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.  In this video from the Melbourne Museum,  Wayne Gerdtz explains this.

However new research has revealed that fin rays in fin-ray fishes and fingers and toes in humans are related!  Scientists from the University of Chicago have shown that the cells that make fin rays in fish also form fingers and toes of land creatures, including humans.

The researchers used a gene-editing technique to delete various combinations of limb-building genes (also known as Hox genes) in zebrafish. They then cross-bred the mutant fish and discovered that the deletion of Hox genes hindered the full development of fin rays.

The researchers also used cell-labelling techniques to monitor cell migration during development. This showed that the cells found in the wrists and fingers of humans are also found exclusively in the fin rays of fish.

Markers of the wrists and digits in the limb of a mouse (left) are present in fish and demarcate the fin rays (right). The wrist and digits of tetrapods are the cellular and genetic equivalents of the fin rays of fish, according to new research. Credit: SHUBIN LABORATORY







Markers of the wrists and digits in the limb of a mouse (left) are present in fish and demarcate the fin rays (right).   Credit: SHUBIN LABORATORY

This new research raises questions about our understanding of where terrestrial (land) animals evolved from and suggests that one day fin-ray fishes like flathead may evolve into new groups of land animals to escape the south east trawl fleet.

Postie Bike Caught by Trawler

25th August 2016

Jack Parkhill from the Miranda Bay couldn’t believe his eyes when they hauled their seine net and instead of flathead found a Postie Bike.  The bike was caught in 100m of water 50 miles east of Lakes Entrance.

We think the bike is a Honda CT90 Trail 90 which was manufactured between 1966 and 1979 at that time selling for US$330.  The amount of marine growth indicates it may have been there for some years.  The crew believe it came from a ship because it is too heavy to drift in the current.  Interestingly, the eastern Bass Strait oil and gas fields were developed around this time.

The bike takes its name from the Honda CT110 which replaced it.  The CT110 was used by postal services in Australia and New Zealand.  It  does not have a clutch meaning the left hand is left free to deliver mail.

The bike will not be restored and instead will go into the shed as a trophy.  Fully restored CT90’s sell for up to $2,750 on eBay.

honda bike

Eating fish . . .it’s not a guilty pleasure

25th August 2016

Preliminary estimates in the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016 report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) show that people are eating more than twice as much fish as they did in the 1960s. The average world per capita apparent fish consumption was 9.9 kg in the 1960s and preliminary estimates indicate it will exceed 20 kg in 2015.

The report attributes this rise in consumption to increased supplies from aquaculture (which now provides 50% of all fish for human consumption) , reduced wastage, better utilization, rising incomes and urbanisation, a slight improvement of some fish stocks due to improved fisheries management and  growing demands linked to population growth.

China has been responsible for most of the growth in world per capita fish availability in the last two decades and accounts for 60 per cent of world aquaculture production.

However, whilst we are chomping on more fish and production is going gangbusters, the report points out that the state of the world’s marine fish stocks has not improved overall with an estimated 31.4 per cent of fish stocks being overfished.

How do Australian fisheries stack up?

On a positive note, the report highlights that countries like Australia are bucking the trend of increasingly overfished fish stocks through the implementation of effective management actions. What’s more, the report recognises Australia’s achievement in eliminating overfishing in Commonwealth-managed fisheries since 2014, which includes the South East Trawl fishery.

This is great news for Australian seafood lovers because it means that they do not have to look far to get their hands on the freshest, tastiest and, most importantly, sustainable seafood in the world.

Fish of the day: The Moonfish

22nd August 2016

The Moonfish (Lampris guttatus) sometimes called an Opah, is a large discoid (disk like) and deeply keeled fish with an attractive form and a conspicuous coloration. They can reach a maximum length of 2 m and weight of 270 kg.

moonfish 1 moonfish 2







The one pictured left was picked up this winter on the beach at Lake Tyers in eastern Victoria by Chris Robertson, the son of a SETFIA member.   It was estimated to weigh 20-30 kgs.

Moonfish are the first fish known to maintain their entire body core 5°C above ambient temperature – something known as whole-body endothermy.  It does this by generating heat as well as propulsion with continuous movements of its pectoral fins and the vasculature of its gill tissue which is arranged to conserve heat.

Endothermy gives them a major advantage at the depths where they live. Since they are relatively warm-blooded at those depths compared to the water around them, they can move more quickly to hunt prey. Most predators at such low depths do not have the energy to be able to move much and therefore must wait for prey to pass them. These adaptations for high performance predation are similar to those found in tuna and some sharks, which actively chase down their prey.

This species is presumed to live out its entire life in the open ocean, at depths of 50–500 m.  Typically, it is found within water temperatures between 8 and 22°C.

For more information watch this video.