Australian Greens' Additional Comments
Committee recommendations on removing the exemption on mandatory country
of origin labelling (CoOL) are a significant and welcome first step towards
addressing the labelling of seafood that would ultimately be beneficial to
consumers, the local fishing industry and the national economy. However, they
fall short of the opportunity provided by this Inquiry to recommend and build
support for a stronger framework for critical national and international ocean
It is disappointing that the committee didn’t take this opportunity to
recommend to the Government a complete approach to implementing seafood
labelling that would much more acutely focus on ocean sustainability outcomes.
This approach should include recommended regulatory actions – possibly staged
to provide time for consideration of formal regulatory impact assessments,
adoption by the market, and compliance - on Australian Fish Names Standards and
then move on to more comprehensive sustainability and provenance labelling
The Greens believe that despite the ongoing complexity of the work of
the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation in relation to Australian
Fish Names Standard this should not be used an excuse to delay moves to more holistic
Sustainability and provenance labelling can be crafted by improving on
and localising the current European Union (EU) Regulation 1379/2013 and lessons
will be learned in the EU over the coming months as the regulation is
implemented. The Greens position is that this is a natural evolution for seafood
labelling in Australia.
Seafood labelling is one element of ensuring sustainable fisheries
management in Australia. The Review of Commonwealth Fisheries: Legislation,
Policy and Management lead by David Borthwick AO PSM and delivered on 17
December 2012 identified gaps and recommended required improvements
specifically in the areas of ecological risk and ecosystem impacts, the
application of the precautionary principle, and transparently addressing the
trade-offs between ecological and industry outcomes.
These specific recommendations from the Borthwick Review go to the core
of the long-term ecological and economic sustainability of the Australian
seafood industry. The Government is yet to respond to this important report and
this should be noted in the committee’s final report.
Until it does so, the Greens believe any assumptions that all Australian
Seafood caught and sold is “ecologically sustainable” (in contrast to imported
seafood being unacceptably high risk in sustainability terms) is potentially
misleading and counterproductive to the aims of broader seafood labelling in
achieving sustainability outcomes.
This inquiry’s recommendations - whilst a step in the right direction -
have given primacy to untested red-tape and business cost issues over achieving
better ocean sustainability outcomes, which are long-term requirements for both
the marketplace and marine stewardship.
The Greens hope that community support and political pressure for better
labelling will lead to continued improvements over time in sustainable seafood
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