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Charity fish auctions

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Some recreational fishing clubs and other non-profit organisations auction fish caught during fishing competitions to the general public, with the money raised for official charities.

Individuals and organisations who supply fish for the auction have a responsibility to ensure that the fish is safe for human consumption.

Legal requirements on charity fish auctions

Recreational fishers in NSW are not permitted to sell or auction their catch (under the Fisheries Management Act 1994). However, organisations can apply for a permit from NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), which authorises the sale of fish by auction for a charitable purpose.

Auction organisers must submit details of fish sold and financial records of the auction.

Once a permit has been issued, organisers of charity fish auctions must notify their local council.

Organisers of charity fish auctions must comply with Standards 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 of the Food Standards Code.

Fish sold at auctions must be safe for human consumption

Organisers may be liable for food safety incidents attributed to fish sold through the auction.

Capture, storage and handling of fish

  • Competitors who provide fish must:
    • have suitable covered containers to store their fish
    • have enough ice to keep fish cold after capture
  • It may be necessary to replenish the ice prior to the auction.
  • All storage containers must be cleaned before use to avoid cross contamination. Bait cannot be stored in the same container as the fish.
  • Fish must be placed on ice (or under refrigeration at <5°C) immediately after capture.
  • While on the boat, the fish storage container must be kept covered at all times.
  • Fuel and other chemicals must be kept away from the fish.
  • The fish storage container should be kept in the shade while on board the boat.

Storage and handling of the fish prior to auction

  • When fish is stored for more than 8 hours, it should be placed in a commercial refrigerator.
  • Anyone handling fish must wash their hands first, (including at the weigh-in).
  • If organisers suspect the fish has not been properly handled or stored, it must not be accepted for the charity fish auction.
  • During the auction, fish must be kept covered and on ice (or refrigerated at <5°C).

Gilling and gutting of fish for auction

  • People gilling and gutting the fish must wash their hands first.
  • All equipment must be cleaned before use, including boards or surfaces used to gill and gut fish. Surfaces such as park bench tops cannot be used to gill and gut fish to be auctioned.
  • After gilling and gutting, the fish must be placed back on ice (or under refrigeration at <5°C) and covered.
  • All equipment should be cleaned after use.

Consuming seafood

Auction organisers should be aware of potential risks associated with the consumption of certain fish:

  • Scombroid poisoning is caused from eating scombroid and scombroid-like fish (eg tuna, mackerel, mahi mahi, amberjack etc) on which certain bacteria have grown due to failure to keep the fish cold.
  • Puffer fish poisoning can be caused by ingestion of tetrodotoxins found naturally in certain species of puffer fish.
  • Mercury occurs naturally in large predatory fish such as sharks and billfish. For health reasons, Food Standards Australia New Zealand advises pregnant women and young children up to six years to consume not more than one serving of these fish per fortnight with no other fish to be consumed during that period. For more information visit Food Standards Australia New Zealand website at and pages on this site.
  • Escolar or Oilfish can cause keriorrhoea (a kind of diarrhoea) in some people. These fish contain an indigestible wax which is a natural laxative. Susceptible people usually develop symptoms 30 minutes to 36 hours after eating the fish. The condition is not ongoing or life threatening. No cooking or handling practices of these fish can prevent keriorrhoea. For more information see Escolar and Oilfish
  • Test results have revealed elevated levels of dioxin in prawns and bream across Sydney Harbour. Recreational fishing in the Harbour has not been banned, but fishers are urged to follow dietary advice on the consumption of seafood from the Harbour. Auction organisers must not accept for auction fish caught in Sydney Harbour.
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