Seafood Industry Australia, the national peak body representing the Australian seafood industry, has welcomed a Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) 2020 election promise to implement Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) for all seafood sold in the foodservice sector.
On Saturday, December 8 state opposition leader Deb Frecklington announced the LNP would change legislation so any business selling seafood for immediate consumption had to identify where the product originated.
"Currently Queenslanders lack access to information about where the seafood they are about to purchase and consume from places like cafes, restaurants and fish and chip shops comes from. This CoOL legislation would see consumers be able to identify and support local, Queensland seafood and fishers," SIA CEO Jane Lovell said.
"Queensland has some of the best seafood in the world, yet the local industry clearly isn't a priority for the Palaszczuk Labor government," LNP leader Deb Frecklington said in a statement.
"The LNP's plan will generate interest in the local industry and give consumers the opportunity to put Queensland seafood markets, restaurants and cafes first.
"All we would have to do is make an amendment to the Food Act 2006 – so our policy won't cost taxpayers a cent."
"In July this year the Federal Government tightened regulations to origin labelling the retail sector, however the foodservice sector has fallen by the wayside," Ms Lovell said.
"We know CoOL in foodservice is something consumers want and we know Australians love Australian seafood. Next to freshness, country of origin is the second most influential factor for a consumer choosing which seafood they buy.
"Twenty years ago almost all the seafood Australians ate was Australian seafood. Most assume it still is. People are flabbergasted when they find out 70 per cent of seafood eaten in Australia is imported.
"CoOL labelling laws are a positive step forward for businesses, fishers and consumers alike. They can be used to promote local produce and will help consumers to identify iconic Queensland seafood outputs like barramundi, snapper and prawns against imports.
"CoOL has a number of benefits for the foodservice sector and can be a draw-card for consumers. White-cloth restaurants already highlight their use of Australian seafood proudly and display it as a badge of honour on their menus.
"It's important we are clear, SIA is not vilifying imported seafood. There is nothing wrong with serving, ordering or eating imported seafood. But, as an industry, we believe consumers should be provided with the same level of information in the foodservice sector.
"A similar labelling scheme operates in the Northern Territory while the New South Wales government is investigating food labelling changes. SIA urges the Federal Government to follow the Queensland opposition's lead and take action to extend same type of Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) laws which apply to seafood sold in retail, to the foodservice sector.
"The Federal Government needs to step-up and protect the Australian seafood industry and enable consumers to know where the seafood they are eating comes from."
"This is a positive move that would align the law in foodservice and public sentiment around CoOL legislation, with the retails sector in Queensland and nationally," Queensland Seafood Industry Association CEO Eric Perez said.
"The public deserves to know where their seafood comes from."