What is it?

We are lucky in Australia to have a wide range of sustainably caught and farmed seafood. But most of us have the sense that our oceans can be harmed to get some of this seafood to our plates. Knowing what’s best to buy can sometimes be confusing, so we created GoodFish to provide an independent guide to truly sustainable seafood. We’re here to celebrate sustainable seafood and connect responsible fishers and farmers with discerning Australians like you.

 The Guide
Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide was created in response to public demand. It gives you a comprehensive insight into the sustainability of over 160 seafood choices available at Australian fishmongers, supermarkets and restaurants. We assess both Australian and imported species, and cover more than 90% of the seafood farmed, caught and imported into Australia. And when the public and our chef partners call for it, we add new seafood to the Guide.

We use a simple traffic light system to rate your seafood.

A Better Choice can be made by choosing green. Species in this group are not currently overfished. They are generally resilient to fishing pressure at current levels, have a history of stable catches and are caught or farmed using techniques that have a lower environmental impact. Some green-listed species may still have conservation concerns, but we have assessed them as a better seafood choice because we are confident they are being addressed.

Eat Less of the species listed as amber. Wild-caught species in this group may be heavily targeted or caught using fishing methods that damage ocean habitats or are associated with bycatch, with these factors posing some environmental risk that is not considered serious. There may be scientific uncertainty about the status of wild caught stocks and a level of fishing pressure that means we need to tread carefully. If farmed, the aquaculture method used has some environmental impacts.

Say No to all species listed in red. Wild-caught species in this group may be overfished, or their capture involves significant bycatch of threatened or protected species. Farmed species include those produced by methods that place significant stress on our coasts and oceans.

We’re not a certification scheme
The Guide is not a certification scheme of individual seafood species or fisheries, which requires a fee for service. AMCS is an independent not for profit charity, funded by the Australian public and charitable foundations. Although the Guide contains references to fish caught by recreational fishers, it is not intended as an assessment of the sustainability of recreational fisheries.

 

The process

AMCS has developed criteria against which to assess the sustainability of wild capture fisheries and farmed seafood. The criteria are based on the latest publicly available research, data and information available about individual species and fisheries. We regularly review methods used by other relevant organisations, institutions and government agencies. Our criteria reflect the widely accepted view of fisheries managers, scientists and other assessment bodies of what makes wild fisheries and aquaculture farms sustainable.

The assessments are undertaken by fisheries experts at AMCS or external consultants. During the assessment phase, we consult with external experts, and request additional input from fishery management professionals, industry, fisheries and aquaculture scientists, marine biologists and conservation experts. This formal review phase ensures that AMCS is accessing the latest information in fisheries and aquaculture conservation.

We regularly liaise with representatives from fishing and aquaculture industries to help inform certain assessments, especially when looking at fisheries with critical conservation issues.

The difference with GoodFish is that we apply a proudly ‘environment first’ approach based on global best practice. We also use science-based, precautionary principles to assess the true sustainability of wild fisheries and aquaculture farms.

In addition, AMCS maintains regular contact with scientists, the fishing and aquaculture industries, fishery managers and conservation experts in order to ensure we can reflect any advances or otherwise in fisheries management. We encourage fisheries management bodies and representatives of fisheries and the aquaculture industry to provide newly published and released data to our fisheries experts.

Wild-caught fisheries

Australia’s wild fisheries are inherently complex. Many fisheries catch multiple different species using different types of fishing gear. A single species can also be caught in different fisheries managed by different states (including the Territory) and also by the Commonwealth.

In assessing the sustainability of wild capture fisheries, we take an ecosystem-based approach. This means we consider all the potential impacts a fishery can have on our marine environment. We consider stock status, impacts of a fishery on the target species, on threatened, endangered and protected species, discarded species, bycatch, byproduct, as well impacts on habitats and the quality of fisheries management.

Food miles, which relate in particular to imported seafood, are not considered in our assessments at this stage, although we note that international seafood guides are increasingly considering the carbon footprint of imported seafood.

Farmed seafood

In assessing the sustainability of farmed seafood, we take a holistic view of the farming process and consider how much wild caught fish is used in fish feed, the quality of management, and the impacts of farming operations on the ocean’s threatened, endangered and protected species as well as on surrounding marine or terrestrial habitats. The human health aspects of farmed seafood are not currently considered.

For more detail on the assessment criteria, see here.

If you have more information that you deem valuable to our process, contact us here amcs@amcs.org.au.