The need for a Common Language Group is highlighted by the confusion that exists among industry stakeholders and the public arena on a number of contentious issues faced by the Australian seafood industry (eg sustainability, responsible fishing, MPAs, fishing methods, etc). This confusion exists throughout the seafood industry supply chain (producers, wholesalers, retailers), among a range of stakeholder groups (NGOs, etc) as well as within the general public. This is contributing significantly to the negative perception of the Australian seafood industry on a range of important issues (fish management, environment, etc).
The purpose of the initiative is to develop a consensus on terminology on a range of important issues affecting the Australian fishing and aquaculture sectors; gaining greater clarity and transparency for the industry. The project will make a significant contribution to improving the public perception of the Australian seafood industry by removing public confusion through the extension of agreed positions and information on a range of topical issues. These agreed positions will be developed through a consensus approach involving all key stakeholder groups through representation on the Common Language Group.

“The seafood industry is not necessarily where traditionally you find all sectors working closely together on a problem, however the Common Language Group will allow us to pioneer a collaborative, national approach to complex issues that affect the seafood supply chain, for the sake of sustainable sourcing and responsible practice” said Michelle Christoe, Food Focus.

Confusion abounds among industry stakeholders and within the public arena on a number of topical issues faced by the Australian seafood industry such as sustainability, responsible fishing, fishing methods etc. This confusion exists throughout the seafood industry supply chain (producers, wholesalers, retailers), among a range of stakeholder groups (NGO's), as well as within the general public. This confusion is contributing significantly to the negative perception of the Australian seafood industry on a range of important issues from our fisheries management to environmental impact.

Seafish Industry Authority in the United Kingdom (UK) refer www.Seafish.org, formed a successful Common Language Group initiative which has demonstrated that much of this confusion can be eliminated through the development and adoption of agreed positions on a range of topical issues affecting the industry and providing an appropriate forum and framework for all stakeholders to reach a consensus position on these issues. This position can then be developed into appropriate media (reports, press releases, guides, fact sheets etc) in an agreed Common Language for extending information on topical issues to stakeholders throughout the supply chain, including consumers and general public.

Phil MacMullen, Head of Environmental Responsibility for Seafish Industry Authority, stated "In the UK, we have found it important to establish a Common Language and co-management through a range of industry stakeholders, thus providing transparency and confidence in consumers".

The initiative was further highlighted earlier this year when Phil MacMullen spoke at a SSA Network Meeting. Key members of the Australian seafood industry and environmental NGOs came together at the network meeting and discussed the need for clearer definitions and terminology, and increased community engagement on sustainability. Consensus was reached that there were many confusing definitions and terminology relating to fishery management and sustainability. There are also many eco-labels for seafood around the world each with different criteria. The various terminology has becomes confusing and misleading to consumers.