Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) has welcomed the Albanese government’s budget, supporting its commitments to the introduction of Country of Origin Labelling for Australian seafood sold in foodservice, and announcement of funding for the national rollout of their industry-specific mental health program, Stay Afloat.
‘On behalf of Australia’s commercial seafood industry I would like to extend my congratulations and thanks to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt, Minister of Industry Ed Husic, Assistant Minister Manufacturing Tim Ayres and Australian Labor Party (ALP) for their strong commitment to Australia’s great seafood producers,’ SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said.
‘In the lead-up to the May 2022 Federal Election, SIA secured a landmark commitment from the ALP to work with the seafood and hospitality sectors to implement mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL). We are thrilled to see the ALP allocate $1.6 million in this budget to deliver on this commitment. The implementation of mandatory CoOL for seafood in foodservice has been one of SIA’s key priorities for the past five years, and a cause championed by industry and consumers for decades.’
She said that since 2018, when consumers buy fresh seafood anywhere around Australia, by law, it has to be labelled with its country of origin. Conversely, there has been no requirement for this in the foodservice sector.
‘Australians love their seafood and next to freshness, country of origin is one of the most influential factors for a consumer choosing which seafood they buy. The introduction of CoOL in foodservice will help consumers make informed decisions about the food they buy in restaurants, cafes and take-away food stores around the country, and allow consumers to support our great, Australian seafood producers,’ Veronica Papacosta said.
‘Right now, for food safety purposes, the supply chain of seafood is known in foodservice all the way to the kitchen door, however, the information is often not passed on. What we’d like to see is Australian seafood identified on menus, simple as that. At a minimum we’d like to see something like Australian Barramundi listed, and businesses can then be as specific as they’d like. For imported seafood a simple ‘i’ to denote it’s imported with a clear explanation of what it means printed somewhere on the menu, similar to identifying if something is gluten free or vegan.’
SIA has also welcomed the commitment to fund a two-year national roll-out of the Stay Afloat mental health program to 50 seafood hubs around the country.
‘This is a wonderful result, and we look forward to being able to provide critical and much needed support to our industry members. Research has shown Australia’s commercial fishers experience twice the base-rate of psychological stress than the general population, and this is not okay. We’ve run a successful pilot of the Stay Afloat program, and provided life-altering support,’ she said.
‘This pilot program has been specially developed to help break the stigma associated with poor mental health within industry, connect industry members with existing services and supports, and provide education to primary health networks regarding the seafood industry’s operations and unique stressors including reforms and the implications of natural disasters.’