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Seafood cheats must be labelled as rogues.

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Seafood cheats must be labelled as rogues

DAFF04/68M 5 May 2004

Australian Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald has vowed to take the issue of incorrectly labelled seafood to the next level if a turnaround in the high number of outlets breaching seafood labelling regulations is not recorded in the upcoming months.

Senator Macdonald wrote to relevant State ministers last month asking that they take a proactive stance on the matter by ensuring that their State laws were being obeyed, but said reports today that up to a quarter of all fish sold in Australia may be deceptively labelled as the wrong species was very worrying.

"Depending on the responses that I receive on this matter I will be looking at what the next step will be. It may be the case that this issue needs to be raised at the next relevant Ministerial Council Meeting of State and Federal Government Ministers to ensure everyone knows their responsibilities," Senator Macdonald said.

"These rogue operators are putting Australian seafood consumers at risk and something needs to be done. Different fish species have different shelf lives and need to be stored at specific temperatures. Dodgy operators who risk consumer well-being chasing a quick buck need to be punished or this problem will continue to fester."

Senator Macdonald said the big loser was the Australian seafood industry.

"If imports are labeled as local seafood people will purchase what is often an inferior product in the belief it was caught sustainably on their doorstep," he said.

"Most of the world's fisheries are nowhere near as sustainable or as environmentally responsible as Australia's and consumers deserve to know where their seafood is coming from and what they are paying for.

"I must point out that the vast majority of wholesalers, retailers and restaurateurs are good honest people, which is why I'm encouraging the State governments to fulfill their responsibilities and get tough on the cowboy merchants and stamp them out."

The comments follow a report by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) in conjunction with state health agencies which concluded fish substitution is widespread across the nation.

Senator Macdonald congratulated his namesake and NSW Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald on his commitment to address the problem in NSW and called on other State and Territory Ministers to do the same.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: David Crisafulli 0400 144 483

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