Friday, June 21, 2024

Seafood consumers concerned about ocean health

91% of surveyed Australian seafood consumers are worried about the state of the ocean, with pollution and overfishing ranking as our top concerns.

Despite this, there is a disconnect between environmental concerns and action at the checkout point.

The findings come from the world’s “latest and most extensive” study of seafood shopping habits released by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), ahead of tomorrow’s United Nations World Oceans Day (8 June).

The biannual survey, which polled over 27,000 people across 23 countries, found that over a third (35%) of surveyed Australians have made diet changes due to environmental reasons. In comparison to 2022, health remains the main motivator for diet changes at 62% and ‘saving money’ has become a top motivator rising to 48% (versus 37% in 2022). The most notable dietary change involved red meat, with 38% of Australians reducing or eliminating beef and lamb from their diets over the past two years. Only 10% increased their fish consumption, while 30% reduced their intake.

While the study displays a “robust national sentiment” to protect our ocean, the MSC says it also uncovers an “ongoing gap” between intent and action when it comes to sustainable seafood purchasing. While 50% of Australian respondents claimed their top action to safeguard the future of fish in our ocean would be to choose sustainably sourced seafood, only 23% did so in the past year. Furthermore, only 14% bought seafood with an ecolabel, such as the MSC blue fish tick label, and although 42% intended to switch to brands or products that support ocean health, just 19% followed through.

81% of respondents say supermarkets’ and brands’ claims about sustainability and the environment need to be clearly labelled by an independent organisation.

“The research clearly indicates that knowing that their seafood is coming from sustainable sources is becoming increasingly important to consumers,” says MSC Program Director for Oceania and Singapore Anne Gabriel.

“The MSC blue fish tick label serves as a credible and trustworthy guide for consumers seeking to purchase seafood from sustainable sources.

“By providing assurance ‘from ocean to plate’ and adhering to rigorous standards recognised by the UN FAO, the MSC label enables consumers to make informed choices aligned with their desire for sustainable options, bridging the divide between good intentions and actual purchasing behaviour.

“The MSC’s comprehensive certification process and chain of custody requirements should be leveraged as a response to the ongoing scrutiny by the ACCC on greenwashing amongst businesses as a pragmatic procurement solution to sustainable seafood while empowering confused and sceptical consumers with an easy and credible choice to make when shopping.”

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