Improving Australia’s seafood import controls

Ensuring the seafood we import into Australia is legally, sustainably and responsibly produced

Fish market
Photo Credit: miljko via Getty Images.

This project is part of the Flourishing Oceans initiative. Flourishing Oceans’ aims to restore the worlds oceans to a flourishing state by 2030.


Knowing where our seafood comes from – every step from catch to plate – is critical to ensuring that products are, at the very minimum, legal and sustainable.

Currently, seafood importers are unable to provide this assurance to Australian consumers. The vast majority of the seafood we eat – 65 per cent – comes from abroad, often from countries with poor track records on illegal fishing and modern slavery.

Very little information is recorded at Australian borders about seafood products – and once it is on shelves or in restaurants, consumers lack access to basic information on what they are eating, where it’s from or how it was produced.

We are exploring the extent of seafood fraud in Australia, as well as identifying solutions for improving Australia’s seafood import system to ensure that consumers can make informed choices that support socially-responsible and sustainable seafood products.

We are calling on the Australian government to urgently implement:

  • A comprehensive catch documentation scheme that allows seafood products to be traced at every step from point-of-harvest to point-of-sale — and a formal verification process to ensure that reported information is credible.
  • Strict regulations that require seafood importers to demonstrate products are legally produced prior to border clearance, including compliance with the supplier country’s laws and backed by strong compliance and enforcement mechanisms.
  • A national seafood labelling system that provides consumers with accurate information on the product’s species, country-of-origin, and method of catch/production, at all points of sale.

Report Spotlight

Mending the Net

Strengthening Australia’s import policies to combat illegal seafood

Did you know that 65 per cent of the seafood Australians eat comes from overseas, particularly from countries with poor track records on illegal fishing, overfishing, modern slavery and unsustainable practices. The Mending the Net report shows how Australia’s poor import controls mean this seafood might be ending up on your plate.