Australian government neglect aiding illegal fishing, woeful labour conditions

Published on Mon 18 October 2021 4:25pm

We generally don’t know the vessel or the country location, or the legality and authorization of the fishing activity or the compliance with basic workplace rights and safety conditions.

Mr Wilson (4:25pm) – Deputy Speaker, last week there were reports of illegal fishing vessels at Rowley Shoals within a marine sanctuary in Australian waters.

It’s vital we maintain and apply the capacity to police our oceans in order to prevent harmful fishing practices. And we should, but still don’t have a clear policy that rules out super trawlers.

But let’s not forget that 65 per cent of the seafood we consume is imported and yet we have no effective mechanism for combating illegal and unregulated fishing practices, which are the cause of catastrophic overfishing. In fact, according to Minderoo Foundation’s recent ‘Mending the Net’ report, we collect only two out of 22 pieces of information required to ensure catch to plate traceability.

We generally don’t know the vessel or the country location, or the legality and authorization of the fishing activity or the compliance with basic workplace rights and safety conditions. Indeed, more than half of our imported seafood comes from three countries China, Thailand and Vietnam, which have documented issues with poor fisheries governance and harmful labour practices.

A survey by the Marine Stewardship Council shows that nine in 10 Australians want measures in place to ensure they’re not buying unsustainable seafood. Both the US and the EU have taken these steps and we are behind the game on this issue.

Deputy Speaker Australia should have a framework in place to help protect marine biodiversity and to prevent modern slavery by seeking to eradicate illegal unregulated and unreported fishing practices.

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