WA fishing industry calls for strong local labelling including State of Origin

With Easter just days away, the WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) is calling on Western Australians to check for local labelling and to buy local seafood whenever possible.

WA Fishing Industry Council chief executive, Darryl Hockey said Easter and Christmas are traditionally the two biggest sales periods for seafood each year.

“During last year’s COVID period we saw a huge surge in support for local seafood purchases with many people actively looking for local products – and we thank them for their support. This is made easier with clear and accurate labelling so consumers can compare local products against imports.

“With good quantities of sustainable, fresh, locally fished produce it’s really easy to find affordable, well-priced local seafood in retail and food service environments,” Darryl said.

While Country of Origin labelling is mandatory in packaged retail seafood, WAFIC is keen to see improvements in labelling for cooked seafoods – including those served in restaurants.

All seafood sold in the retail sector must be labelled to identify its Country of Origin. However as soon as the food is cooked and sold those laws disappear, making it difficult for consumers to distinguish between sustainable Australian seafood and non-sustainable seafood imported from other markets.

“We would like to see Country of Origin, or better yet, State of Origin labelling mandated for seafood sold in the food service sector. It seems like common sense that consumers should be able to identify what they are paying for, what they are eating and where it comes from, so they can make more informed choices about supporting local products. Local consumers should be given the confidence that if they are paying for WA seafood then they are eating WA seafood.

“I would like to see Western Australia follow the Northern Territory model and establish State of Origin labelling. If you go to food outlets in the Territory you’ll find NT products identified on their menus and patrons actively asking for the local product.

“I would encourage customers eating out to ask if the meal they are ordering is local WA seafood. The shopkeepers will soon get the message that consumers deserve the best,” Darryl added.

Mr Hockey said WA’s commercial seafood industry has been pushing for labelling changes to address this issue.

“Unfortunately, with everything else that’s been happening it has been hard to get traction for labelling changes. It’s not a massive task to make accurate food service labelling mandatory and we are keen to work with government to progress this,” Darryl said.