We must do more to protect Australia from illegal and unethical imports: McKell report

We can do more to protect Australia from illegal and unethical imports: McKell report

Australia can do more to protect its market from illegal, unreported and unregulated seafood imports.

That is the message from the McKell Institute’s latest report, Security Net: Fortifying Australia’s Import Regime Against IUU Fishing, sponsored by Oceans Five.

IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing is a major global challenge. It has been for decades.

Globally, it is estimated that around 20 per cent of all traded seafood is categorised as IUU.

IUU itself is a broad term.

It encompasses fish products that may come from exploitative labour, all the way through to products where suppliers simply don’t have visibility over the product’s origins.

The prevalence of exploitation in commercial fishing globally is well known and is a major concern to the McKell Institute.

And while Australia has robust import protections generally, there’s more Australia can do to prevent its supply chains from being inadvertently corrupted by products from the global market that are driving exploitation internationally.

Informed by industry, government, unions and other critical civil society stakeholders, McKell’s Security Net proposes a 3 Stage Reform Process designed to protect Australian supply chains from IUU seafood products, and help Australia do its part to eliminate exploitation from the global seafood supply chain.

It argues that Australia should, as a priority, establish an Electronic Catch Documentation Scheme — a policy that would require all seafood imports to be accompanied by comprehensive documentation covering that products history from harvest to arrival at market.

Making this scheme digital will ease administrative burdens.

Secondly, the report recommends the criminalisation of the importation of illegal seafood products in Australia, arguing this should occur once the catch documentation scheme is up and running.

And finally, the report argues that Australia needs to do its bit to help combat the prevalence of IUU products globally.

It should work with like-minded partners to develop a ‘green-light system’ for seafood products. The ‘green-light system’ would apply a ‘green light’ to export markets that demonstrate they meet certain ethical standards in their local seafood industries.

Ensuring Australia is not inadvertently contributing to a global market for IUU seafood is essential if Australia is to do its part in driving a more sustainable and ethical global seafood industry.

You can read the Security Net report here: