What you can do
At the restaurant or seafood counter
If you eat seafood or even if you don't, let your restauranteur or fish monger know that sustainability matters to you as a paying customer. Share your concerns if they're selling overfished or threatened species, or shark fins from Australian or overseas fisheries. Remember to be polite. Your host may not be aware of the issues, but should be receptive to you as a paying customer. You can direct them to this website for more information!
Ask before you buy - starting a sustainable seafood conversation
One of the most important ways to help improve the sustainability of our seafood is to ask questions of fishmongers, supermarket assistants and waiters before we buy. Retailers may not have all the answers, but by starting a conversation we are encouraging our seafood suppliers to find out more about the product that they supply from our big blue backyard.
The more our suppliers hear questions about the sustainability of their products, the more they start asking questions of their suppliers. The ripples of demand for sustainable seafood then pass up the supply chain and become waves, helping drive change in the way our fish and shellfish are caught or farmed. It is up to all of us to help make our seafood sustainable.
What should I ask when buying seafood?
"Is the species overfished?"
If it is, then say "no thanks". Give overfished species a break by making an alternative choice.
"How was it caught or farmed?"
Did that method damage the environment or catch large amounts of marine wildlife? Choose seafood from fishing or farming methods that have low impacts on the marine environment, its species and habitats. See the Aquaculture page for more information.
"Is it a deep sea, slow-growing or long-lived species?"
Deep sea species are generally slow-growing and long-lived. This makes them particularly vulnerable to fishing pressure, and means that they take longer to recover from impacts on their populations. Give these species a break too.
"Where is it from?"
Local is not always more sustainable. Knowing where the seafood comes from is one of the key questions in helping make an informed seafood choice. Australian and imported species are assessed separately in this guide to help you make a better choice.
Speak out through the media
A letter to the Editor in either print or online platforms is a great way to make your voice heard to many. But remember, Editors receive hundreds of letters each day, so use these tips to increase your chances of having your letter published.
- Be timely and relevant. If something in the media motivates you to reply, send your letter that day or at least within 24 hours. If you're not responding to a story in the media, then try to badge it to an event or theme that is topical
- Refer to the original article or story. In the first sentence of your letter include the title and date of the article, eg: "It is not acceptable for Australia to participate in the global trade in shark fin ('Shark fin exports on the rise', 13/4)."
- Be brief! Keep it under 150 words and you're more likely to get your letter published.
- Keep it simple. Stick to the point. Editors don't want an essay. They want your opinion, and reasons to back it up. If the issue is complex, choose one or two points and stick to them. Be clear and concise.
- Be noticed! Make your letter stand out from the other by using an attention-grabbing first sentence to make people notice.
- Proof read it! Make sure your letter is edited for grammar and spelling mistakes, and make sure it makes sense. Ask a friend or relative to read over it before you send it off.
Petition and letter writing
When we need to make a big noise on an issue we set up online petitions to make it easy for you to make your voice heard. When more people speak out at once on the same issue, our voice turns into a roar. You can sign our current online petitions here.
If you want to make an even bigger impact, send your own personalised letter to your local member or the relevant minister. But remember these essential tips:
1. Use their correct title
2. Give your correct contact details so they can send you a reply
3. Be polite and patient. Politicians receive hundreds of letters each day and may take some time to respond to your letter. Make sure you ask them to send you a reply.
4. Use accurate facts and figures to state your case.
5. Tell them what you would like them to do about the issue (ie: protect a threatened species' critical habitat, stop an industrial coastal development etc).
6. Personalise it. Tell them why the issue is important to you.
Contact your local Member of Parliament
Your elected local member is there to represent you as one of their constituents! Let them know your concerns about an issue by writing to them using the tips above, or by calling their local office to make your views known.
You can also make an appointment to see your local MP, but make sure you go prepared. Research your topic before you meet with them, and have a clear request prepared. Be polite and clear about your concerns and what you'd like your MP to do about the issue. Always remember, it's your right to have your voice heard.