Co owner of Ocean Fresh Seafoods, Fyshwick Market, Jenny Jones, holding flake steaks. Photo: Graham Tidy
Chief filleter at Ocean Fresh Seafoods Shane Robinson knows his sharks and he knows what he likes.
"Blacktip shark is the best shark,'' he said. ''I come from NZ, where there are a lot of greyboy shark. roughskin is also very popular. It's a good firm fish.''
But when you're ordering your flake, soon it might be gummy shark or nothing.
Seafood Services Australia is calling for public submissions on its new amendment, designed to stop fishy labeling of ''flake'' in fish and chip shops. They want all flake to be gummy shark or New Zealand rig.
"What we're doing is trying to bring some definition into the business here," said chairman of the Australian Fish Names Committee Roy Palmer.
"Anyone who is involved in the business understands that gummy shark is the best you can have for your fish and chips," he said. "There's nothing better."
But Canberran fish retailers say it's not as simple as that. Ocean Fresh Seafoods owner Nathan Munro said getting gummy shark in the ACT was very difficult.
"It's not a well-known fish in Canberra," he said.
"We really like mako. It presents so well. Angel shark's great for a take away."
"It's a Victorian fish," said John Kalogris, who owns Sea Harvest Australia in Belconnen. "Very hard to find, there's not much volume on the Sydney market floor."
Mr Kalogris said because gummy shark was more popular in Victoria, any that turned up in Sydney went straight to Melbourne buyers. "It's very expensive compared to all the other types," he said.
"To be honest with you, I haven't sold gummy shark more than once in the last year in my shop. It just isn't available."
Most fishmongers said even finding the amount of gummy shark in NSW would be very difficult. Owner of FishCo Down Under John Fragopoulos said there just wasn't enough gummy shark on the market to support its exclusive classification as flake.
"I can't see that happening. To start, we don't catch enough gummy here in NSW to meet demand. We use the black-tip shark or the mako shark. Fishermen don't fish here for it, because they don't get a high price," he said.
The public consultation period finishes on August 15 and, if approved, flake could be reclassified by the end of the year.
Mr Fragopoulos said that although customers should know what they're eating, sometimes it can go too far.
"We need to specify what we are selling, yes, but why gummy? Where will I find gummy?" he said.
"The best fish is fresh fish."