Published 4 years ago.
About a 7 minute read.
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/ This article is sponsored by
Marine Stewardship Council.
MSC has researched what matters most to seafood lovers, and how to engage consumers and producers on the benefits of sustainable seafood. We caught up with Senior PR Manager Jackie Marks to find out how MSC is getting that message out.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) works with
fisheries, scientists and the seafood industry to make sure our oceans are
fished sustainably; and to help consumers to find and buy certified sustainable
seafood. They are also committed to working towards the UN’s Sustainable
Development Goals — in particular, SDG 14, which is all about taking care
of Life Below
To this end, MSC has undertaken research with GlobeScan to find out what
matters most to seafood lovers, and how they can assure consumers that eating
sustainable seafood can benefit them and the environment.
We caught up with Jackie Marks, MSC’s Senior PR Manager, US, to find out how
MSC is getting that message out to consumers and producers.
Jackie Marks: We know that consumers are savvier than ever, and they want
information to support their choices when it comes to purchasing products at the
store. One of their top concerns in relation to the environment is pollution of
the oceans followed by overfishing concerns. Consumers want to do the right
thing. Our research showed that 81 percent of seafood consumers in North America
say we need to protect supplies for future generations.
But some issues are more prominent than others when it comes to purchasing and
eating seafood. Sustainability is about halfway down their list. Things like
whether it is safe to eat, fresh, tastes good, is it good for me and my family,
and price still rank above sustainability when it comes to buying seafood.
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So, we are learning that there is still a divide between what people say and
what they actually do when it comes to purchasing seafood. Trying to bridge that
and action is where we try to come in and engage consumers about why it's
important to make environmentally sustainable choices.
An important part of the work of the MSC is to promote the message that seafood
can be good for the consumer and good for the oceans. We are trying to help them
make that connection when they see the MSC blue fish logo on products.
We have also learned that people want to be able to trust what they are
They want to see independence of the claims that companies are making. It’s not
enough for the company to say — yes, we are doing the right things; or yes, we
are sustainable. They want to get that third-party verification that companies
are actually doing what they say they are doing.
JM: The Sustainable Development Goals are so important because they are a
benchmark for us to work towards — not just for the MSC, but for the industry.
MSC’s work to protect seafood for future generations is embedded in SDG 14: to
conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for
sustainable development. And of course, making sure that fishing is done in a
sustainable manner also helps to achieve other sustainable goals. For example,
protecting fish stocks for future generations so that they are able to reproduce
and repopulate supports SDG 2, which focuses on food security — because
seafood is a healthy source of protein for people all over the world.
Sustainable seafood production also plays an important role in community
livelihoods, so it relates to SDG 8 — which addresses economic growth and
decent work conditions. Our work also links to SGD 12, which is Responsible
An important tenet of our work is to make sure people know they can achieve a
healthy lifestyle and a healthy ocean.
I would also say that partnerships are critical to being able to move forward.
So, SDG 17 —addressing Partnerships for the Goals — is definitely something
that is important to us.
JM: Seafood mislabeling or fish fraud is a serious issue. Over a third of
seafood is incorrectly labelled as another species. MSC-certified seafood,
however, has a mislabeling rate of less than 1
because we offer assurance from when the fish is caught. This is why
traceability is an essential part of the MSC program. With traceability, we’re
offering assurance from when the fish was caught to when it reaches the
consumer. If it has that MSC blue fish label on it, it can be traced back to a
sustainable source. And that traceability is incredibly important, because it
means that we are doing what we say we are doing. It means that we are fighting
mislabeling and fish fraud, and it is an assurance along the entire supply chain
that the company and the consumer can feel good about.
So, companies that have the MSC chain of custody certification are meeting all
of those requirements. They are sourcing from an MSC-certified fishery and
meeting our standards every step of the way along the supply chain. Companies
like IKEA and Purina, [which] we are highlighting in our session at
Seafood Expo North America next
month, can assure customers that the seafood they are presenting to consumers
meets all of those goals.
JM: I think the incentive for companies who aren’t currently certified would
be to have that traceability and third-party validation. Again, this goes back
to some of the research we did with GlobeScan: Having that third-party
verification is what the consumer wants. The MSC validation processes are
entirely done by a third-party auditor; and for consumers, that is a real tenet
of the trust that they put in some of these companies. For companies to be able
to reassure the consumer; and show them that everything along the supply chain
is traceable, sustainable and independently verified, that is something that
those companies who are not certified would benefit from.
JM: We will be holding a session at Seafood Expo in Boston on 16th March,
called “Global sustainability megatrends: Does seafood measure
It will feature IKEA and Purina talking about how they are working towards some
of these sustainability goals, and how they engage consumers on these issues. We
are really trying to have a conversation about how companies are achieving
sustainability and how they are tackling some of the main issues found in
GlobeScan’s Healthy and Sustainable
That’s really the impetus for the session — we want to encourage people to have
that discussion about what sustainability is and how they are addressing it
through their businesses.
JM: I think part of the concern among consumers is simply not knowing how to
address fish. They often think of seafood as a special meal that they should
save for special occasions. Or they may be unsure how to cook it. We encourage
people to eat more MSC-certified seafood because it is a win-win — is good for
them and good for the oceans. Eating seafood can easily be done at every price
point. It could be an MSC-certified can of tuna or fish sticks. It could be
omega-3 supplements or a nice salmon filet. It’s not exclusive, and we don’t
want it to be. We want people to know that it is definitely attainable to get
more sustainable seafood in their diet, whatever their budget.
Published Feb 19, 2020 1pm EST / 10am PST / 6pm GMT / 7pm CET
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.