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Seafood labelling shake-up for hospitality industry

Hospitality venues will soon need to label their seafood.

Hospitality venues will soon need to label their seafood. Photo: Getty

Australia’s restaurants, cafes, and hotels will have to identify the origin of seafood served after federal, state and territory consumer ministers voted to make the labelling of seafood more transparent.

The ministers voted to implement compulsory labelling on seafood to provide consumers with “clear, consistent information”.

The ministers decided at a meeting to introduce the AIM model, to identify if seafood is Australian (A), Imported (I) or Mixed (M). The labelling will come into effect in 2025.

Additionally, guidance will be given to affected businesses, like restaurants and cafes to help them adjust.

Due to existing and different Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) requirements, the changes do not affect retailers, like supermarkets.

It was announced in October 2022 that the Albanese government would provide $1.6 million for CoOL.

“As traceability and provenance become more important to consumers, we must support the efforts our local seafood industry is making to identify their products,” Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said in 2022.

“Country of Origin Labelling will ensure that the seafood grown or caught here in Australia is rightfully given its dues on menus around the country.”

Hospitality venues will have to display whether seafood is Australian, imported or of mixed origin.

Labels too general

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed the decision to implement a labelling system in restaurants, cafes and clubs, but said more needed to be done.

When the changes are implemented in 2025, it will simply bring eateries closer into line with fish shops and retailers.

But fish shops and retailers need to also show where the final product was imported from and where seafood is caught or farmed.

The AMCS said figures suggest around 65 per cent of the seafood Australians consumed is imported.

“Australians need imported seafood to meet our appetite for seafood and there are imported species that are from sustainable sources,” AMCS Fair Catch campaign manager Dr Cat Dorey said.

“With so much of our seafood demand relying on imported products, simply having labelling limited to ‘Imported’ does not enable consumers to make the informed, sustainable choices they are seeking and deserve.”

It is important that Australians know what they are eating and its impacts on marine life and people, Dorey said. Australians should not only know where and how it was caught or farmed, but also the name of the species.

“Seafood guides around the world, including AMCS’s GoodFish Sustainable Seafood Guide, require this level of information to accurately and fairly identify better seafood choices and flag those at high risk of being from unsustainable and unethical sources,” Dorey said.

AMCS is calling for the introduction and establishment of “consistent national end-product labelling requirements” at all points of sale.

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