Living Lightly column

Say No to Flake

By Tess Middleton, Fin Free Albury Wodonga

Before Easter I wrote an article regarding the sustainability of our seafood, in particular, flake. Little did I expect the CEO of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to reply and downplay the facts. When a little article in a local paper gets this kind of national attention our message of Say No to Flake is working.

In response to James’ letter regarding the sustainability of flake, flake is not sustainable. I appreciate his time in reading my article and taking the time to respond. Unfortunately in his response he fails to mention that 90% of the global shark population has been wiped out due to shark fishing, shark mitigation and shark finning. It is also fact that over 33% of all shark species are now threatened with extinction. Absolutely, sharks can be targeted for their meat, as well as fins, but the fins from many of these sharks that are caught for meat are sold on to Asian black markets to be used in shark fin soup, which again makes my point that by purchasing flake you are supporting the shark fin trade, indirectly, but supporting nonetheless. Gummy shark is mentioned in his response, sadly there is actual no way of tracking what shark you are purchasing once it is at the fish and chip shop, so really it could be any number of sharks.

I believe it is also worth noting the mercury levels in flake as well; scientific studies have found in flake samples, mercury levels has been so high that they are unsafe for human consumption, causing neurological diseases and causing damage to a developing foetus.  Studies have also shown that we will have dead oceans i.e. no more fish by 2048 if commercial fishing continues at its current rate. Lastly, while James mentions that shark finning is illegal in Australian waters – this is the practice of cutting the fins off live sharks while at sea. In Australia what is happening is the entire shark is brought back to the dock (legal) then the fins are sliced off and sold and the torso sold for meat, sadly there are many loopholes which weren’t mentioned. Anyone can research and find the facts I have mentioned here and many more that have not been discussed. Thank you.