The Mirror News

Corner Inlet seafood wins sustainability stakes

THE health benefits of seafood have long been touted. Now there is another reason to plump for Southern calamari or King George whiting fresh from the waters of Corner Inlet when you are planning your next meal.

To the pride of local fishermen such as Port Franklin’s Neville Clarke, an independent sustainability assessment of seafood products has given the tick of approval to six Victorian regional seafood products, including these two local products.

Announcing the first results from the Victorian Sustainable Seafood Assessment Program, the Australian Conservation Foundation in association with the University of Technology, Sydney and the Science Reference Panel, congratulated the producers of:

  • Southern calamari from Corner Inlet;
  • Southern calamari from Port Phillip Bay;
  • King George whiting from Port Phillip Bay;
  • King George whiting from Corner Inlet;
  • Blue mussel from Sea Bounty Pty Ltd, Corio Bay; and
  • Rainbow trout from Goulburn River Trout Pty Ltd, Alexandra.

These complement the five previously assessed and recommended products:

  • Red emperor from the Pilbara, Western Australia;
  • Farmed barramundi from Marine Produce Australia, Cone Bay, Western Australia;
  • Yelloweye mullet from the Coorong, South Australia;
  • Western king prawn from the Spencer Gulf, South Australia;
  • Squid from the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales.

“There is a great deal of confusion about what seafood is sustainable and what is not,” said ACF Healthy Oceans Campaigner Chris Smyth.

“Overfishing, bycatch and habitat damage mean commercial fishing can be bad news for oceans, but there is also good news about efforts the seafood industry is making to become sustainable.

“The six seafood products we are announcing today are some of those good news stories.”

He described the Southern calamari or Sepioteuthis australis from Corner Inlet as a short-lived—only 18 months—and fast growing species found in estuaries and nearshore coastal waters over reefs, sand and seagrass areas.

“The small Corner Inlet fishery harvest calamari using specially designed haul seines and techniques that have minimal impacts on stocks, bycatch and habitat,” he noted.

King George whiting or Sillaginodes punctata, he said, is only found in southern Australia, living in bays, estuaries and creeks over sand and seagrass meadows where it feeds on crustaceans, worms, molluscs and fish. Whiting are caught in the Corner Inlet fishery using haul seines, small boats and specialised techniques that minimise impacts on stocks, bycatch and habitat.

“Our independent and scientifically rigorous assessments take out the guesswork for consumers who want to make sustainable seafood choices,” said Professor David Booth from the University of Technology, Sydney.

“By choosing local and sustainable seafood products, consumers will encourage seafood producers to move towards sustainability. That will improve the health of our oceans while also supporting our coastal lifestyle and the economies of regional communities.”

The Sustainable Australian Seafood Assessment Program will continue to assess regional seafood products in Australia’s oceans. Funding for the Victorian project has been provided by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Ruffin-Falkiner Foundation. Log onto the interactive map to learn more about the assessed products at www.acfonline.org.au/seafood.

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