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.