Imported Fish

Reporter: Helen Wellings

Australians are seafood mad - we eat about 13 kilograms each per year and you'd think most would be homegrown. But amazingly, because of growing scarcity and fewer licenses being granted, around 75% of our fish and crustations are now imported, mainly from Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, China, South Africa and New Zealand.

In the supermarkets, you have very little choice but to buy imported seafood. Today Tonight checked out 10 supermarkets around Australia and found in most, over 70% is imported. In one IGA in Melbourne, no choice whatsoever, 100% is foreign.

Greg Doyle, owner/chef of Pier Restaurant in Sydney and Pier Head Chef Grant King know seafood backwards. We asked them to evaluate popular imported fish and prawns against similar Australian-grown varieties. Thumbs well down for the $8 a kilo African Nile Perch compared with very edible Australian barramundi at $33 a kilo in the supermarket.

At almost half the price of the Australian barramundi - Barramundi from Taiwan. Another very popular import cheapie, called Basa, is actually Vietnamese Catfish, at $10 a kilo. Better value is the more expensive Australian grown Goldband snapper - and Smoked Cod from South Africa at $11.50 a kilo ... the colour is a chemical paint, the cod .. literally sickening!

Now 2 varieties of prawns both from Thailand, $20 to $28 a kilo. Greg Doyle says "That's flavourless .. you'd just be wasting your money buying those. When you're paying just a couple of dollars more you'd definitely be better off buying the Australian prawn." So all the frozen imported seafood tested is rated poor to inedible. "Why import such low grade fish .. no nutritional value"

But worse, as we've revealed in previous stories, imported seafood often comes from unsafe, contaminated waters and can be deadly. Country of origin labelling is now compulsory, but Australian Fish Wholesaler Michael Miriklis says, fish names often mask their murky origins. "Fish eating Australians should worry about the quality of what they are eating, where it is coming from."