What's in a Name?

The Australian Fish Names Standard


Standard, common and scientific names 

Each fish species has a unique two-part scientific name. However, many species have more than one "common" name. Or, a single common name may be used for more than one species of fish.

Have you ever caught a mulloway, a jewfish, a butterfish or even perhaps a river kingfish? These names have been used for a long time throughout Australia for the popular angling and food fish, known scientifically as Argyrosomus japonicus.

This species has commonly been called:

· “jewfish” in New South Wales and Queensland

· “mulloway” in Victoria

· “butterfish” in South Australia

· “kingfish” or “river kingfish” in Western Australia.

The Australian Fish Names Standard AS SSA 5300 solved the problem of confusion over common names by prescribing a standard fish name for each species of fish produced or traded in Australia. 

The Standard specifies that: fish sold to consumers (e.g. retail sales and restaurants) must be identified by their standard fish name. Fish sold other than directly to consumers (e.g. wholesale, export, import) must be identified by their standard fish name or scientific name.

Standard Fish Names are available via the Australian Fish Names Database which includes more than 4,000 Australian and imported species. 

“Mulloway” is the Australian Standard Name for Argyrosomus hololepidotus

Other examples include:

· Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) was previously known as barra, giant perch, palmer or silver barramundi

· John Dory (Zeus faber) was previously known as doorkeeper’s fish, dory keparu, kuparu or St Peter’s fish

· Snapper (Pagrus auratus) was previously known as bedford snapper, cockney, pink snapper, pinkie, red bream, schnapper, squire or nobby

Here's a great video explaining the scientific names of fishes.

Background

As early as the 1920’s people recognised the need to standardise names to address the increasing confusion surrounding fishes marketed in Australia. Past surveys showed that when purchasing seafood, people were very concerned about the accuracy of fish names and the labelling of seafood.

People from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (CMAR), the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and the former Seafood Services Australia (SSA) joined forces with fish taxonomists, recreational anglers, aquarists, fish-book authors and people from the fishing industry to produce a uniform list of names for Australian fishes. The Standard, developed by the Fish Names Committee, resulted from extensive consultation and consensus among a wide range of stakeholders, including several of the world's leading fish taxonomists. This list aims to greatly improve seafood marketing in Australia. All seafood must be labelled with the correct Standard Fish Name allowing consumers to make informed choices when purchasing seafood or dining at restaurants.

More information about Standard Fish Names can be found at: Seafood Standards and FRDC

Each species treatment in this website provides the Australian Standard Fish Name, along with other names that have been used for the species throughout Australia. In addition, common names used overseas are often listed.



Cite this page as:

Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2018. What's in a Name?, in Bray, D.J. & Gomon, M.F. (eds) Fishes of Australia. Museums Victoria and OzFishNet, accessed [date viewed], http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/