Good news for those of us who are keen to eat more sustainable seafood and support local businesses: it will soon be compulsory for restaurants, fish and chip shops and other hospitality venues across the country to label where their seafood was caught. Essentially, diners and customers will be able to know whether their prawns and snapper have been plucked from Australian waters (A), are sourced internationally (I), or a mixture of the two (M). In Sydney, Josh and Julie Ninland's restaurant Petermen and Neil Perry's Margaret have been setting the gold standard for this kind of practice – their menus already outline where each piece of produce is from.
The federal government announced that country of origin labelling would be made mandatory for the whole seafood industry after state and federal consumer affairs ministers voted unanimously for the change on Friday, November 24. It’s been a long time coming – in 2017 the West Australian government pushed to make origin labelling compulsory, and for many years the fishing industry has been an advocate for origin classification, acknowledging the growing trend of diners wanting transparency around where their food comes from.
While the exact date for AIM labelling is not confirmed, West Australian commerce minister Sue Ellery reckons there will be around a 12-month transition period for businesses, as reported by the ABC.
How this change will impact businesses and indeed seafood prices we don’t yet know. But we do know that when it comes to buying and enjoying seafood, we will soon have more transparency, which will lead to more choice and agency in our decisions – and in our books that’s definitely a good thing. Support local!