The facts: Shane Geary of the Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-operative says the public should ask fish merchants what fish they are buying and where it’s from, not rely on a generic sustainable fishing guide.
The facts: Shane Geary of the Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-operative says the public should ask fish merchants what fish they are buying and where it’s from, not rely on a generic sustainable fishing guide. Bruce Thomas

Coffs fishermen angry over guide

COFFS Harbour’s professional fishermen are spitting chips over information the Australian Marine Conservation Society is trying to sell to the public over what seafood they should or shouldn’t buy.

A sustainable seafood brochure the conservation group is circulating lists a host of so called “overfished or endangered fish species”, which the public should not buy in the name of sustainability.

A link was made in an article yesterday to the Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-operative’s wild harvest seafood, but local pro fishos insist their practices are sustainable.

They maintain many of the fish species identified on that list are in fact imported to Coffs Harbour and not caught locally.

“We agree that sustainability is important to the seafood industry, but looking at that conservation society’s brochure, I think step three of the brochure is the most important – ask your fish merchant what fish species you are buying and where it’s from,” Shane Geary, of the Coffs Fishermen’s Co-op, said.

“A lot of the information in the guide is inaccurate in reference to Coffs Harbour; you can’t use information from other fisheries and apply it on the local level,” he said.

The Coffs Coast’s commercial fishermen are certainly no strangers to the conservation society.

It was responsible for sending 469 submissions to the State Government’s draft review of the Solitary Island Marine Park. That represented 43.5 per cent of the 1000-odd submissions received, backing a phasing out of prawn trawling in the marine park.

“The conservation society calls for the public to purchase sustainable fish species like flathead and whiting,” Mr Geary said.

“Well, these fish are caught as by-catch by our prawn trawling fleet, so if trawling is banned we would instead be stocking imported orange roughie fillets from New Zealand, which they say is overfished.”

The Co-op’s Sam La Spada said just four of the 25 fish species said to be overfished are caught locally.

He said species like flake, school shark, sword fish and tuna – all caught locally – are done so in a sustainable manner.



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