Eat friendly fish

By MEL MARTIN

AS you shop for your Good Friday seafood today, choose carefully to support your local industry and protect our marine environment.

"Coffs Harbour is lucky to have a great variety of seafood locally," Shane Geary from the Coffs Harbour Fishermen's Co-op said.

"So we encourage people to look for local fresh fish."

While seafood is in high demand at Easter, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) claim that consumers are increasingly becoming aware of global concerns about overfishing, and demanding seafood that is caught in an environmentally sustainable way.

And this is now becoming easier.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ? a global non-profit organisation ? recently introduced a logo that identifies species caught sustainably.

"It is distressingly easy to find overfished species for sale in many retailers," MSC Asia-Pacific Regional Director Duncan Leadbitter said.

A sustainable seafood guide is also available from the AMCS to assist consumers in choosing their seafood wisely, by identifying overfished species and recommending alternatives.

The society recommends choosing Australian seafood, as it is difficult to assess where imported stocks are coming from and what controls are in place.

"We're given very little information about where imported seafood comes from and the fishing or aquaculture methods used," National Fisheries Campaigner for AMCS Craig Bohm said.

"There are environmental concerns about a large number of imported species from countries that have fewer environmental controls than we have in Australia.

"Our industry is far from perfect, but other countries' might be far worse, and here, at least, we can find out."

Mr Geary, from Coffs Harbour Fishermen's Co-op, said that imported fish is affecting the Australian industry.

"A lot of imported fish comes into Australia very cheaply, and our fishers find it hard to compete, but they're battling on," he said.

"Most of our fisheries in Australia are very well managed. In our area, we have closures put in place to protect species and grounds."

Australian fisheries undergo an environmental assessment process to ensure they are managed sustainably.

But the recently published Bureau of Rural Science report, Fishery Status Reports 2004, found that out of Australia's 74 principal species, 14 were overfished.

Overfished species include orange roughy, redfish, eastern gemfish, atlantic salmon, shark (flake) and silver trevally. Some better alternatives listed in the guide include snapper, flathead, bream and tailor.

To obtain a copy of the Sustainable Seafood Guide call 1800 066 299 or visit www.amcs.org.au



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