Why the fish naming standard must be legislated?

25th July 2014

The brown lump of fish to the left is probably a large shark like a Mako Shark, Thresher Shark or Bronze Whaler but was allegedly sold to a Victorian cafe by a Victorian licensed fishermen as gummy shark (the true image of which is pictured on the right).

The Association believes that consumers have the right to understand the seafood they are eating and that the entire industry risks losing the confidence of seafood consumers if they do not.  It has taken the Australian fishing industry more than 100 years to build a reputation for taste, freshness and sustainability.  This brand, the names of Australian fish, must not be stolen by unscrupulous sellers or importers.

In 2013, Britain was rocked by a meat substitution scandal in which horse meat was sold as beef mince.  The BBC reported that immediately following the scandal in March and April 2013 sales of mince fell 41% compared to the same months in 2012.  However, sales of competing proteins like poultry, pork, lamb and non-mince beef products all galloped off the shelves with sales rising on the same indicators.  The BBC also reported that consumers lost confidence in some supermarket products instead favouring local butchers who could tell them more about the meat they were buying.

The Australian Fish Name Standard (AS SSA 5300) prescribes a name for Australian fish or those traded in Australia.  The Standard is administered by the FRDC Fish Names Committee.

The Committee is seeking pubic feedback on proposed amendments for  finfish, prawns and other invertebratesuntil August 31. The correct name of any fish can be checked here.

Under current labelling laws it is unclear whether the seller of the brown lump of fish has broken any laws.  ASenate Committee will report in October about the current requirements for the labelling of seafood and seafood products.  The Association urges the Senate Committee to recommend to legislate the use of the fish naming standard.

In 2012 the ACCC took Federal Court action to protect consumers and King Island producers from a Victorian butcher who was falsely claiming his beef was sourced from King Island. The court imposed a $50,000 penalty.

The Association contends that faking fish names is no different to horse being substituted for beef or mainland produce for King Island produce.

The Association is also lobbying both major Australian supermarkets to fully adopt the Standard regardless of legislation.

The Sydney Fish Market has been a proud supporter of the Australian Fish Names Standard since 2005.  In 2008 SFM and its on-site retailers became certified under the Standard.  The Association congratulates De Costi Seafood, Deep Seafood, Christie’s Seafoods, Claudio’s Quality Seafoods, Musemeci Seafood and Peter’s Fish Market for doing the right thing.