As Australia approaches Sustainable Seafood Week (27 March – 3 April) and Easter (7 – 9 April), it's more important than ever to keep responsible seafood top of mind. The winners were a fantastic mix of organisations and individuals who have made significant contributions to responsible aquaculture, from retailers to producers and even an inspiring young person in the industry.
Pacific Reef Tigers, an ASC-certified prawn farm near Ayr in north Queensland, took home the ASC Best Responsible Producer Award for their innovative water quality control system that cleans wastewater to a level where it can be reused. It reduces nutrient pollution to below the global best practice of 5 mg/L nitrogen and 1 mg/L phosphorus and is both carbon neutral and chemical free. This innovation not only reduces the environmental impact of the farm but also increases the efficiency of its operations.
The next standout star was Yumbah, which took home the ASC Above and Beyond Award for its Indigenous engagement and measures to reduce energy use, packaging and plastics. Yumbah was also highly commended in the ASC Best Responsible Producer Award category for its integrated approach to managing and communicating environmental responsibilities.
Caleb Trenberth, propagation manager at Yumbah was also highly commended for the ASC Young Person in Aquaculture Award. He is responsible for propagating six million abalone each year to supply both the Yumbah Port Lincoln (South Australia) and Narrawong (Victoria) farms. Yumbah is Australia's leading sustainable and responsible abalone farming company, with several ASC-certified abalone farms across South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, including Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island, Narrawong and Bicheno.
Taking home the ASC Best Retailer Award was ALDI Australia, which was recognised for its overall approach to responsible reporting and policies. Wollongong seafood store Harley and Johns was highly recommended for the same award.
In addition, ALDI Australia's Specially Selected smoked rainbow trout fillets have won the ASC Best Product Award. Made from responsibly farmed rainbow trout, these tinned fillets are expertly smoked to create a rich, smoky flavour. This award is a testament to ALDI's commitment to providing high-quality and sustainable certified seafood options to its customers.
The KB Food Company won the ASC Best New Product category with their innovative product, Fish Creatures. This playful and educational product is specifically designed to engage children in the world of seafood and teach them about responsible and sustainable fishing practices. Featuring different types of seafood, such as fish fingers or nuggets shaped into fun animal or creature forms, make them more appealing and enjoyable for children to eat, helping to inspire the next generation of responsible seafood lovers.
The ASC Young Person in Aquaculture Award went to Jody Mulholland from Proserpine, QLD, an employee of Tassal who has made incredible strides in enhancing sustainability management at Tassal’s ASC-certified Proserpine Prawn farm. Tassal was also highly commended in the ASC Above and Beyond Award category for their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases at their ASC-certified salmon farms in Southeastern Tasmania. A shift to electric pumps has resulted in noise reductions in and a million litres of diesel.
And last but not least, Tasmanian, Hobart-based seafood supplier and restaurant owner Mures was acknowledged for their ongoing commitment to responsible aquaculture and making information about responsible aquaculture production available to consumers in both their retail and food service outlets, winning the Aquaculture Champion 2023 Award.
Duncan Leadbitter, Australian head of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, said: "Not only do we want to recognise the aquaculture farms that are located in some of the most beautiful parts of the country, but we are also wholeheartedly impressed by the overall supply chain that has taken the extra step to ensure our seafood is responsibly sourced. With aquaculture being a growth industry in rural Australia it is very rewarding to see growing opportunities for young people to have access to challenging and rewarding careers in the Australian seafood industry.
Congratulations to all the winners and everyone working hard to make responsible seafood a reality in Australia!”