KAP launches seafood bill to support local producers

Seafood Country of Origin Bill launched

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C Bar Café and Restaurant owner Allan Pike, Townsville barramundi farmer Tim Bade with Robbie Katter MP, and Nick Dametto MP at the launch of the Seafood Country-of-Origin Labelling Bill.

C Bar Café and Restaurant owner Allan Pike, Townsville barramundi farmer Tim Bade with Robbie Katter MP, and Nick Dametto MP at the launch of the Seafood Country-of-Origin Labelling Bill.

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KAP launches bill to increase transparency surrounding the origins of seafood products in restaurants and cafes throughout Queensland.

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With 70 per cent of seafood consumed in this country imported, many north Queenslanders may be wondering about the true origins of their delicious restaurant favourites.

Hoping to change this, Katter's Australian Party leader and Member for Traeger, Robbie Katter has launched a bill, making it mandatory for the all Queensland dining venues to declare whether or not their seafood is locally produced or imported.

A timely announcement, in light of Friday, October 22 celebrating National Barramundi Day Australia wide.

Under current federal legislation, it is compulsory for all Australian supermarkets to declare the origins of the seafood they market, however this responsibility has not yet transferred to restaurants, cafes or takeaway shops.

"It's about consumer choices, we are not wanting to force businesses to do anything other than provide people an awareness regarding where the seafood they purchase and eat is from," Mr Katter said.

"When this Bill goes through the Parliament, we are looking for support from Liberal and Labor to help the Australian fishing industry and also help our consumers make informed choices.

"It's ridiculous to me that we buy fish and seafood from overseas that don't have the same standards as the Australian industries and the majority of the time we are unaware."

Mr Katter said he believes most Australians would want to know where the seafood they consume is from.

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto backed Mr Katter's stance and said he believed the legislation was a step in the right direction for his electorate.

"If it's mandatory for supermarkets to include the country of origin on their packaging, then it's only fair to make it compulsory for all retailers as it provides transparency for consumers," he said.

"North Queenslanders love to support locals, and that is evident with the number of successful 'buy local' community-driven initiatives such as Shop The Hinchinbrook Way and Support Local Townsville.

"Most consumers make an ethical decision on where their fruit, vegetables and seafood are coming from; people like to purchase Australian sourced and produced products."

Tim Bade, manager at Spring Creek Barramundi in Townsville, said if nothing else, the legislation would provide people with the right information to make a conscious decision about whether or not they want buy an Australian or an imported product.

Mr Bade said the cost of production in Australia is greater than in some less-developed Asian countries because of the high standard Australian seafood is produced at, making it cheap to import.

"The importance in restaurants, cafes and fish and chips shops actually disclosing where the seafood is coming from is it gives the consumer an informed choice and they can decide on which seafood they wish to purchase and consume," he said.

"I think Aussies are very passionate about local produce and I think they will support Australian products and shop locally more often than not."

Australian Barramundi Farmers Association chief executive officer Jo-Anne Ruscoe said National Barramundi Day was all about showcasing homegrown barramundi and supporting Aussie barra famers who work hard to provide Australians with tasty, high-quality and sustainably-farmed fish.

"With 60 per cent of barramundi eaten in this country being imported from Asia, we use this day to encourage Australians to ask for Aussie barra, to support local producers and simply to celebrate this amazing fish," she said.

"While supermarkets are required to inform shoppers if their seafood is imported or Australian, when you order barramundi or any seafood - in a restaurant or a fish and chip shop - there is no obligation to tell you where that fish is from.

"We believe Queenslanders want and deserve the information to make informed choices, no matter where they buy their seafood, and this Bill can give Queenslanders that information and we are in full support."

Mr Bade said with October 22 marking National Barramundi Day, he encourages people to get out there and support local industry, and the Australian Barramundi farmers and fishers by enjoying some local barra.

The Seafood Country of Origin Labelling Bill is set to be introduced into the Queensland Parliament next week.

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