Seafood Eaters Don’t Have Sustainability on Their Mind

Local, fair trade, and organic have become battle cries for a global sustainable-food movement. The fishing industry, too, has responded to this surge of interest in how the food we eat affects the Earth and its waterways by eco-labeling products.

Local, fair trade, and organic have become battle cries for a global sustainable-food movement. The fishing industry, too, has responded to this surge of interest in how the food we eat affects the Earth and its waterways by eco-labeling products; passing stricter laws against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and even applying blockchain technology—the approach behind bitcoin—to trace fish supply chains. But these fish-friendly initiatives are running into a wall: consumer apathy.

According to a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and North Carolina’s Duke University, when people choose to buy fish, the factor that they care least about is its perceived sustainability. This is a troubling finding given that the modern fishing industry—and the future of wild-caught fish—is at risk, with a 2012 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report estimating that up to 85 percent of the world’s wild fish are either overharvested or already depleted.

Yet for grocery shoppers in British Columbia, the most important factors influencing purchasing decisions are the sensory attributes of the fish—its taste, smell, and texture—as well as price. Following, in order of importance, are whether the fish is farmed or wild; if it’s local or non-local; various perceptions about health benefits and risks (including fears of contaminants and food poisoning); and then, at the very bottom of the list, perceived sustainability.

Read Full Story: Hakai Magazine/Eileen Guo

Photo: Lucarelli/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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brigitte-perreault
brigitte-perreault

I had this conversation with Captain Paul Watson, Founder of Sea Shepherd, a couple of weeks ago. It is very challenging to educate consumers about food so that they truly understand the seriousness of the current issues and become conscious consumers.

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