Few grocery store merchandise sound extra Australian than John West’s barramundi fillets, enhanced with “scrumptious Murray River salt, Tasmanian mountain pepper leaf and natural lemon myrtle seasoning”, in line with the packet description.
Nevertheless, many customers can be shocked to search out the pearly pink fillets are imported from south-east Asia, says president of the Australian Barramundi Farmers Affiliation (ABFA) Ken Chapman.
“It’s very and completely deceptive Australians. The nation of origin is labelled in effective print, however simply through the use of the identify ‘barramundi’, most individuals assume they’re shopping for Australian fish. Right this moment, round 60 per cent of ‘barramundi’ consumed in Australia is definitely imported – it ought to be referred to as Asian seabass.”
Barramundi and Asian seabass are totally different names for a similar fish species (Lates calcarifer) native to Australian and Indo-Pacific waters. Chapman is looking for “barramundi” for use solely when referring to Australian Lates calcarifer.
“It is an iconic Indigenous identify, and when most individuals see barramundi in retailers or on menus, they assume it is an Australian fish,” he says. “We wish to clear up any confusion concerning the place it is from.”
The ABFA is campaigning for the Australian Fish Names Standard to determine imported Lates calcarifer as Asian seabass, reserving “barramundi” for fish caught or farmed in Australia. Funded by the Fisheries Analysis and Growth Company, adherence to the usual is strongly inspired however not presently necessary.
Moreover, the ABFA is making a case for the federal authorities to guard the identify “barramundi” by legislation by registration of geographical indication (GI) – just like Parma ham, Stilton cheese and Champagne, which might solely be produced in designated European areas.
Australia presently protects GIs by certification commerce marks and a bespoke system for wine underneath the Wine Australia Act 2013. Registering “barramundi” as a protected identify will likely be a problem for the farmers’ affiliation.
“It might not be doable to register the phrase ‘barramundi’ by itself for Australian farmed or caught barramundi as a result of barramundi is the identify of a kind of fish,” mentioned a spokesperson for IP Australia, which administers the nation’s mental property rights system.
“Nevertheless, it could be doable for the phrase “barramundi” to be integrated right into a composite mark, with different textual content or photos, which as an entire emphasises Australian origin.”
“Barramundi” is presently utilized by American firm Australis Aquaculture to label its Clear Harvest-branded fillets on the market in Australia and all over the world.
The barramundi is farmed in ocean waters off Van Phong Bay, Vietnam, and licensed sustainable by third-party organisation BAP (Greatest Aquaculture Practices). Australis chief government Josh Goldman would not plan to cease utilizing “barramundi” anytime quickly.
“Barramundi is the one legally recognised identify for the species in each English-speaking nation,” he says.
“Whereas Australians can take delight in having named the fish, the thought of renaming it primarily based on the placement of catch or harvest makes little sense in our world world. You do not hear Germans claiming plagiarism for ‘lager’ or Italians for ‘pizza’.”
Goldman says simply because a barramundi comes from Australia, that does not assure high quality or sustainability both. “However, competitors makes everybody higher and the patron wins. A minimum of, that is the way it’s purported to work.”
Australian customers in search of assurance their barramundi is from a accountable supply ought to search for the gold tick emblem of Australia’s Sustainably Farmed Barramundi Certification Program, says Chapman.
“Some folks is perhaps glad to eat Asian seabass, positive. However, I wager most would slightly eat Australian barramundi and help Australian farmers.”
Australia’s farmed barramundi trade started within the 1980s with small ranges of manufacturing. Right this moment, the trade produces about 9000 tonnes of complete fish yearly. Wild barramundi catch was estimated to be 500 tonnes final 12 months and declining, reportedly because of the excessive value of fishing in comparison with farming and imports.
Queensland and the Northern Territory are essential barramundi farming areas, nonetheless the fatty fish is now harvested throughout mainland Australia. “Persons are shocked to listen to we develop barramundi simply exterior Melbourne,” says Boris Musa, head of MainStream Aquaculture in Werribee. “Barramundi thrive off heat temperatures and our farm makes use of geothermally heated spring water, untouched by industrial or organic pollution.”
Chef Lennox Hastie of Sydney’s Firedoor restaurant says individuals who keep away from barramundi as a result of they’ve encountered a “muddy” tasting fish previously ought to give it one other crack. “Australian aquaculture will get higher yearly by way of high quality management methods and the way farmers handle water to maintain it as clear as doable.”
Hastie grills Humpty Doo barramundi at Firedoor and may serve it with charred child gem lettuce, black olives and recent radishes. “The advantage of barramundi is that it may well take one thing fairly punchy,” he says. “It is tremendous fatty, so simply pair it with any of the gorgeous citrus we’ve in Australia if you wish to go easy. It may possibly additionally maintain its personal towards XO sauce or anchovy dressing,”
Whereas barramundi is a flexible fish that lends itself to curries and poaching, Hastie says skin-on grilling is his most well-liked technique of cooking. “Even in the event you do not wish to eat the pores and skin, it helps defend the fish whereas it is grilling. It additionally hides a gorgeous layer of fats which moistens the flesh and develops flavour.”