A new Sustainable Seafood Assessment Program (SASAP) by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has assessed a range of local seafood products as sustainable, meaning they’re good for the environment, good for the local economy and, yes, good for our gobs.

A joint initiative by the ACF and the University of Sydney, SASAP has rigorous science underpinning the assessment and a team of independent marine scientists who make up the program’s Science Reference Panel.

The program works collaboratively with the local seafood industry and has so far assessed 17 region-specific seafood products around Australia, including those from boutique fisheries who usually can’t afford to pay for expensive certification schemes.

Check out what local fishers and chefs have to say about the program (4:43):

The latest assessment has focused on Victoria, where it investigated the practices of small-scale fishers who catch and supply seafood from Victoria’s bays and inlets. The program took a close look at the fishing methods and ecosystem impacts of the fishers and assessed 11 seafood products as sustainable.

Victorian Seafood on the A-list:

Southern calamari from Port Phillip Bay and Corner Inlet

The small Corner Inlet fishery harvest calamari using specially designed haul seines and techniques that have minimal impacts on stocks, bycatch and habitat. The Port Philip Bay fishery uses haul seine and squid jigs to harvest calamari, techniques that have minimal impacts on stocks, bycatch and habitat.

King george whiting from Port Phillip Bay and Corner Inlet

The Port Phillip Bay fishery uses haul seines and mesh nets to catch whiting with minimal impacts on stocks, bycatch and habitat. Whiting are caught in the Corner Inlet fishery using haul seines, small boats and specialised techniques that minimise impacts on stocks, bycatch and habitat.

Snapper from Port Phillip Bay

The commercial fishery in Port Phillip Bay is relatively small and the use of carefully selected fishing gear longlines and hand sorting minimises habitat damage and the catch of unwanted species.

Rock Flathead from Corner Inlet

Most of Victoria’s commercial catch of rock flathead comes from Corner Inlet where the small number of fishers works closely together to manage the effort harvest from in their fishery. They use specialised fishing gear and hand sorting to minimise habitat damage and the catch of unwanted species.

Silver Trevally from Port Phillip Bay and Corner Inlet

In Port Phillip Bay and Corner Inlet, the fishers work closely together to manage the harvest from their fishery. They use specialised fishing gear and hand sorting to minimise habitat damage and the catch of unwanted species.

Black Bream from Gippsland Lakes

Working from small boats, commercial fishers in the Gippsland lakes use mesh nets and haul seines to catch black bream. The combination of specialised gear, slow hauling and hand sorting minimises impacts to habitats and unwanted species.

Blue mussel from Sea Bounty Pty Ltd, Corio Bay

Blue mussels are intertidal filter-feeding molluscs that have been farmed around the world for centuries. Sea Bounty Pty Ltd grows blue mussels on drop lines at a number of locations in southern Port Phillip Bay. The company’s management practices, including the deliberate stocking of mussels at low densities, ensure the farms have only minor local environmental impacts. Sea Bounty feature in our cookbook Seasonal Regional, check out their recipe for chilli mussels here and grab a copy of the book here.

Rainbow trout from Goulburn River Trout Pty Ltd, Alexandra

Goulburn River Trout Pty Ltd grows rainbow trout in a series of land-based ponds on the banks of the Goulburn River. The company’s feed management—only small proportions of protein are sourced from wild caught marine fish—and effluent monitoring ensure there is little local environmental impact.

From where can I buy this fish?

The fishmongers at the South Melbourne Market are doing a special promotion this summer and are featuring SASAP accredited fish for your eating pleasure. Otherwise, get yourself to your local fishmonger and be sure to ask them where their seafood products have come from. Use our directory to find a fresh seafood supplier near you (Victoria and Sydney only at this stage). Be sure to tell the fishmonger how happy you are that they are sourcing their fish from local and sustainable fisheries, so they know it’s what consumers want and will support!

What about the other states in Australia?

The ACF has assessed 5 seafood products in other states across Australia, and will require further funding for assessing a full list of seafood products from the other states.

In South Australia:

Yelloweye mullet from the Coorong at the Murray Mouth – The Lakes and Coorong Fishery is a well –managed small scale fishery operated by fishing families using small boats and harvesting techniques that have low levels of habitat impact and bycatch.

Western king prawn from the Spencer Gulf– Spencer Gulf has the world’s largest population of the western king prawn. The Spencer Gulf Prawn Trawl Fishery uses management and harvesting techniques that ensure the prawns are caught in an ecologically sustainable way with low level of habitat impact and bycatch.

The Red Emperor and Squid have also been assessed as sustainable. from the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales from the Pilbara and farmed Barramundi from Cone Bay in Western Australia

To see the SASAP assessed seafood products in your state, click on the map below:

To learn more about sustainable seafood, the issues facing our oceans and marine life today and what you can do about it, read our Fishy Business section.

To read more about some of the local small-scale fishers operating in Victoria, check out our latest book Seasonal Regional.

To source local seafood near you, see our directory here.

To learn more about SASAP and the ACF, click here.