THE REAL DIRT

The Great Prawn Dilemma

September 26th, 2014 · No Comments · Blog

At the recent Australian Coral Reef Society annual conference in Brisbane I met a young scientist called Renata Ferrari. We were chatting at the end of day one when canapés were being passed around. On the first plate being offered were some prawns. Without any embarrassment Renata asked the waiter whether they were sustainably harvested prawns. He looked confused but scurried off to the kitchen to ask the chef, while I held the invertebrate in my fingers with bated breath…He returned unsure and Dr Ferrari declined. I ate mine guiltily…She told me I needed a sustainable seafood app on my phone…Later I chased up a piece she wrote on the issue:

“Prawns are an Aussie favourite. They’re also a great example of how confusing shopping for sustainable seafood can be. Prawns can be a bad choice; for example, if they’re black tiger prawns farmed and imported. They can be a “think” choice, if they’re king prawns that have been trawl caught. Or they can be a “better” choice, particularly if they’re greentail prawns that have been haul caught in NSW.

“Given this complexity, it is important that the origin and fishing/farming method be labelled at any seafood vendor. If prawns are just labelled “prawns”, how can a consumer know what they’re getting?

“Australia needs laws that require more stringent labels on seafood sold at any vender. Together with consistent sustainable seafood guidelines, labelling laws could help make the consumption of sustainable seafood commonplace.

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