Australia’s dietary guidelines and the environmental impact of food “from paddock to plate”

Caleb Gardner
Med J Aust 2013; 199 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10034
Published online: 7 October 2013

To the Editor: Selvey and Carey infer that the consumption of imported seafood by Australian consumers is evidence that Australian seafood production is unsustainable.1 However, trade in canned and frozen seafood is extensive because these products are stable and because of the comparative advantage of production between countries. The same process results in Australia’s reliance on imported electronics, clothes and cars — it does not mean there is an unsustainable supply of the ingredients necessary to produce these goods in Australia. The inference that seafood trade arises from unsustainable production is inconsistent with trends in both global and domestic seafood price indices, which have declined relative to terrestrial protein sources since 1990.2,3

  • Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS.


Competing interests:

I am a director of Southern Rocklobster Ltd and receive financial support from research levies collected by government from Australian seafood industries.

  • 1. Selvey LA, Carey MG. Australia’s dietary guidelines and the environmental impact of food “from paddock to plate”. Med J Aust 2013; 198: 18-19. <MJA full text>
  • 2. Tveteras S, Asche F, Bellemare MF, et al. Fish is food — the FAO’s fish price index. PLOS One 2012; 7: e36731.
  • 3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Consumer Price Index, Australia, Dec 2012. CPI: Group, sub-group and expenditure class contribution to change in all groups indexes. (ABS Cat. No. 6401.0.) (accessed Jan 2013).
  • 4. Stewart J, Hughes J, McAllister J, et al. Australian salmon (Arripis trutta): population structure, reproduction, diet and composition of commercial and recreational catches. Final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation for Project No. 2006/018 and 2008/056. Fisheries Final Report Series No. 129. Sydney: Industry & Investment NSW, 2011.
  • 5. Goldsworthy SD, Page B, Rogers PJ, et al. Trophodynamics of the eastern Great Australian Bight ecosystem: ecological change associated with the growth of Australia’s largest fishery. Ecol Modell 2013; 255: 38-57.
  • 6. Wang Y, Wang N. A retrospective evaluation of sustainable yields for Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery. Fisheries 2012; 37: 410-416.


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