SA’s marine scalefish fishery is SA’s oldest industry. It commenced operations in 1846, with todays fishers fishing the same species and with similar fishing gear (nets and hand lines) as their ancestors.
However, with an increasing consumer emphasis on environmental performance, the fishery today faces new challenges, including fish resource sustainability and the ‘social licence’ to operate.
Feedback from the MFA website is clearly showing that broader environmental stewardship is required as consumers question a number of marine environmental issues, such as greenhouse gas emissions, protection of vulnerable habitats and, increasingly, the issue of waste generated by the Industry. This is consistent with global trends, with approximately 20 countries, including the USA, Japan, Italy, Canada, and Brazil, now having national 'zero waste' policies.
Zero-waste has also been identified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC, 2021) as one of the top 10 emerging trends in global fisheries.
It has also been identified by the UN as a key Sustainable Development Goal (Target 12.3) of "by 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including postharvest losses."
Despite this, we are unaware of any similar fisheries project in Australia that is addressing this whole-of-supply-chain issue.
The proposed project addresses this consumer-driven need by focussing on a reduction in waste generated by the Industry across the supply chain in three areas:
(a) underutilisation of fish caught as a by-catch,
(b) underutilisation of the whole fish for consumption
(c) non-utilisation of fish remains which are not suitable for consumption.
Only around 50% of the weight of fish currently caught by the fishery is utilised, with the remainder being discarded either as by-catch or fish parts, such as those remaining after filleting. This is consistent with MSC and FAO estimates across global fisheries.
Achieving a ‘zero-waste’ industry would therefore address an important emerging issue in the fishery, leading to improved consumer acceptance of the Industry's 'social licence'.