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Trade in healthy seafood does not mean production is unsustainable


Gardner, C, Trade in healthy seafood does not mean production is unsustainable, The Medical Journal of Australia, 199 pp. 456-457. ISSN 0025-729X (2013) [Letter or Note in Journal]

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DOI: doi:10.5694/mja13.10034


Selvey and Carey infer that the consumption of imported seafood by Australian consumers is evidence that Australian seafood production is unsustainable.1 However, trade in canned and frozen seafood is extensive because these products are stable and because of the comparative advantage of production between countries. The same process results in Australia’s reliance on imported electronics, clothes and cars — it does not mean there is an unsustainable supply of the ingredients necessary to produce these goods in Australia. The inference that seafood trade arises from unsustainable production is inconsistent with trends in both global and domestic seafood price indices, which have declined relative to terrestrial protein sources since 1990.2,3 Much of Australia’s imported seafood is canned fish. Declining prices, not lack of fish, led to the closure of all Australian canneries for economic reasons. Canning of Australian salmon ceased after almost a century of production, despite an exceptional abundance of salmon stocks.4 We have many other fish stocks that are only lightly fished and could contribute to our diets if there were demand for them. One of these is the 30 000 tonne Australian sardine fishery, which has a negligible ecosystem impact but is only used for animal feed due to low demand for human consumption.5 Economics also influence the interpretation of "overfishing", which was misrepresented and not defined by Selvey and Carey. For example, management of Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery targets economic yield, so it is termed "overfished" if profitability becomes suboptimal.6 It is incorrect and misleading to equate this with collapse of the stock or ecologically unsustainable fishing.

Item Details

Item Type:Letter or Note in Journal
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Fisheries sciences not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - wild caught
Objective Field:Fisheries - wild caught not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Gardner, C (Professor Caleb Gardner)
ID Code:91351
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2014-05-15
Last Modified:2014-05-15

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