The following resources can provide you with more information on sustainable seafood, and may help you make decisions about which seafood products you wish to offer on your restaurant menu.
Whilst different organisations take a slightly different approach to answering similar questions, the programs tend to compliment each other and should provide you the necessary information.
Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide was first produced in 2004 in order to help consumers choose their seafood wisely. It was developed in response to growing public concern about overfishing and its impact on our oceans and their wildlife. The latest version was produced in 2014, and updates are annual; the updates account for changes in fisheries management and environmental considerations around fisheries.
The Guide offers an insight into the sustainability of around 100 common seafood products found in stores and restaurants. Using science-based methodology based on the principles described in section “I- Is it sustainable?” the Guide rates seafood as either green “Better Choice”, yellow “Think Twice” or red “Say No”. Consumers can use the guide online at the website, on the free smartphone app, or in print as a wallet card or booklet.
The online Guide is available here.
The Guide is also available as a free smartphone app – the app also features Greenpeace’s Canned Tuna Guide.
By purchasing seafood from certified sustainable fisheries and using the MSC ecolabel on menus, restaurants can help reward and celebrate those fisheries that have proven they are fishing sustainably, and will be doing their bit to help to transform the seafood market to a more sustainable basis.
Businesses can show their customers how seriously they are taking sustainable seafood sourcing by using the MSC ecolabel on the menu. In order for products on a restaurant menu to display the MSC ecolabel each company in the supply chain must become Chain of Custody certified from an independent, third-party certifier. MSC Chain of Custody certification means consumers and seafood buyers can have confidence that the fish they are buying can be traced back to a fishery that meets the MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing.
Follow this link to find out more information about how your restaurant can obtain Chain of Custody certification.
It is also worth having a look at the ‘MSC on the menu’ video series.
See which restaurants and suppliers are MSC-certified in Australia.
The ASC is a global organisation that sets standards for responsibly farmed seafood. The standards are designed to promote change on the water: their objective is to minimise the environmental and social footprint of commercial aquaculture by addressing key impacts. Similar to the MSC, the ASC’s aquaculture certification program and seafood label recognises and rewards responsible aquaculture.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) partnered with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to develop a sustainable seafood program specific to Australian fisheries and aquaculture operations. In 2012, they assessed 16 products as sustainable in WA, SA and NSW, and list the products by fish, location and supplier. To see which fisheries have the ACF stamp of approval and read more about their program, see their site.
Greenpeace Australia-Pacific produce Australia’s Canned Tuna Guide, a list of the best brands of canned tuna to buy based on their sustainability and traceability.
WWF has partnered with a number of leading business in the seafood industry to improve the sustainability of their seafood supply, and educate consumers about sustainable seafood choices, including the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).
More information about their initiatives can be found here.
Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) is an international non-government association established to improve commercial fishing and aquaculture practices by working with those in the private sector that support sustainable seafood. SFP harnesses the buying power of companies to catalyse change amongst producers via partnerships aimed at pursuing sustainability.
SFP are currently working with Woolworths in Australia to assess the sustainability of their seafood produce.
Australian Government Fisheries Stock Status Reports
The Commonwealth, Northern Territory and most of the State Governments annually produce an overview of how their fish stocks are doing. These reports are compiled by government scientists and provide fisheries managers, policy makers and all of those interested in fisheries issues with a snapshot of the state of stocks, identifying annual trends in fish abundances and highlighting where management measures might be needed to improve the situation. We’ve provided links to these reports on the Links to Government Reports section of the website.
Although of great value, the stock status reports tend to concentrate on the abundances of fish in the ocean and tend not to assess the ecological implications of fishery activity.
Whilst filled with valuable information, the majority of these documents are technically detailed and can be hard to wade through without a doctorate in fisheries management. However, many of the resources listed above use these stock reports in their assessment processes, meaning members of the public don’t have to read about which mathematical model was used to estimate the abundance of a stock of fish!
For an overview of how fisheries management works in Australia, head to the AMCS website.