Buy Safe and Legal Seafood

Seafood businesses; restaurants, fish & chip shops, fish retailers & wholesalers who buy fish from illegitimate sources threaten the sustainability of our fisheries resource. This unlawful activity is a major problem in Victoria.

Don't jeopardise your customers' health or your business reputation.

Is buying fish and shellfish from a recreational fishers illegal?

Yes. Buying any fish (including shellfish) from recreational fishers contravenes legislation (Fisheries Act 1995, Food Act 1984, Seafood Safety Act 2003, Food Standards Code) designed to protect consumer health, fish stocks and the commercial fishing industry.

Why is buying fish from a legitimate commercial seller so important?

Recreationally caught fish are not subject to any of the food safety measures required under the Food Standards Code. Buyers of illegal fish are placing their customers' health at risk, and the reputation of their business on the line.

PrimeSafe is the regulatory body responsible for seafood safety. Contact (03) 9685 7333 for further information or through their website;

https://www.primesafe.vic.gov.au/standards-and-guidelines/

What species are most commonly involved?

Seafood on the table in a restaurant

Fish commonly involved in illegal take for sale includes:

  • marine scalefish such as Tuna, Snapper, Whiting and Flathead
  • freshwater scalefish such as Murray Cod and Golden Perch
  • molluscs such as Abalone, Pipis and Calamari (squid)
  • crustaceans such as Rock Lobster and Shrimp/Yabbies (bait)

What happens if you're caught buying from a recreational fisher?

Restaurants and seafood businesses found receiving or selling recreationally caught seafood could:

  • be prosecuted and fined over $150,000 as an individual or over $800,000 as a company; and
  • receive up to 10 years jail
Cash being handed over
It is illegal to buy and sell recreationally caught fish in Victoria

Non-compliance with the Food Standards Code can also result in:

  • fines of up to $40,000 for the individual or $200,000 for a company; and
  • revocation or suspension of their licence to operate a food business

What happens to the recreational fisher?

Restaurants and seafood businesses found receiving or selling recreationally caught seafood could:

  • be prosecuted and fined over $150,000 as an individual or over $800,000 as a company; and
  • individuals could receive up to 10 years jail

Non-compliance with the Food Standards Code can also result in:

  • fines of up to $50,000 for the individual or $250,000 for a company; and
  • revocation or suspension of their licence to operate a food business

How can I protect my business and ensure my seafood is legitimate?

Flathead and trevally on display at fish market

If you are caught, the fisher and buyer could face significant fines and jail terms

If you intend to buy and sell fish (including shellfish) for human consumption you must:

  • keep a record of the purchase transaction (including the name and address of the vendor, manufacturer, processor or packer of food received); and
  • ensure that food you purchase is handled in accordance with the Food Standards Code to avoid contamination

If in doubt when purchasing seafood, don't hesitate to ask where it was sourced.

Who do I contact if I suspect 'illegal take for sale' activity?

If you:

  • are approached by a recreational fisher trying to sell their catch; or
  • suspect a seafood business is sourcing its seafood illegally

Report them to The Victorian Fisheries Authority's 24 hour, 7 day a week reporting service 13 FISH (133474)