Chefs unite to get ‘unsustainable’ seafood off menus

23 April, 2019 by
Madeline Woolway

Unsustainable seafood is off the menu, with more than 40 of Australia’s leading restaurants joining the GoodFish project, spearheaded by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

Top chefs, including GoodFish ambassador Ben Shewry, have pledged not to serve seafood that is currently red listed on the AMCS’ Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide.

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As the operator of one of the world’s top 20 restaurants, Shewry acknowledges Attica’s influence on diners. “We have a moral responsibility,” the chef said in a statement. “We need to understand the ingredients we are cooking with, and no more so than what comes from the ocean. If I don’t have have what I would call a clean menu — if I don’t have best practice, the most sustainable menu I can have in terms of shellfish and seafood — then I am contributing to the problem.”

According to the AMCS, the 15th edition of Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide covers 92 per cent of all the seafood consumed by Australians, including locally produced and imported species. The guide provides advice to chefs and consumers through colour-coded classifications, with a number of popular options, including Tasmania-farmed salmon, ‘red listed’ by the organisation.

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The guide assesses fisheries and aquaculture operators on a range of practices, such as the stock status of the species, the methods used to catch them, and the impact of harvesting on other marine animals and birds.

Adrian Meder, AMCS Sustainable Seafood program manager, said Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide is fully independent of government and industry, making it a trusted source of information.

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However, Seafood Industry Australia (SIA), the peak body representing the Australian seafood industry, has called the campaign “bogus” and “scaremongering”.  SIA CEO Jane Lovell said “The AMCS is unfairly targeting well-managed Australian fisheries rather than celebrating their sustainability.”

Lovell specifically called out the red listing of Tasmanian-farmed salmon, saying it failed to factor in Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s certification of Australia’s Atlantic Salmon farms.

“Let me be clear, despite their claims, the AMCS is in no way responsible for the collection, collation, management of data or the reporting of fish stock levels for any of Australia’s fisheries,” says Lovell. “Responsibility for this sits with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, who for the fifth consecutive year (2018), endorsed the sustainability of Australia’s Commonwealth-managed fisheries.”

Lovell instead recommends the ‘SAFS – Sustainable Fish Stocks’ app as well as the 2019 Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports, which were developed by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Image credit: Good Food