Aussies love sustainable seafood, but just one in 10 shoppers are buying it. Picture: iStock
Aussies love sustainable seafood, but just one in 10 shoppers are buying it. Picture: iStock

Three seafood questions Aussies fail to ask

Exclusive: The majority of Australians are buying seafood from the supermarket but only one in 10 shoppers are buying products that are sustainable.

New research from the Marine Stewardship Council given to News Corp Australia has revealed Australian buying habits are fishy.

While three-quarters of Australians believe we need to purchase certified sustainable seafood to protect the ocean, only nine per cent buy ecolabelled fish and seafood products regularly.

A further 75 per cent of Australians believe sustainability claims should be labelled by an independent organisation, and only one in five notice ecolabels when shopping for seafood.

Shopping for fresh seafood can be just as confusing as buying frozen or canned seafood. Picture: MSC
Shopping for fresh seafood can be just as confusing as buying frozen or canned seafood. Picture: MSC

The survey also revealed that 49 per cent would pay more for their seafood if it was from a certified sustainable fishery.

The data also revealed:

• 64 per cent of Australians are regularly buying canned fish;

• 47 per cent are buying fresh fish;

• 90 per cent of shoppers are buying seafood from a local supermarket.

The MSC is a global independent non-profit organisation which sets a standard for sustainable fishing.

Seafood lovers can support sustainable fisheries by choosing seafood from more than 400 blue MSC-labelled products that are fresh, chilled, frozen and canned.

More than 350 fisheries in more than 35 countries are certified to the MSC's standard.

This means it comes from a fishery that has been independently certified to the MSC's standard and is a well-managed and sustainable fishery.

The survey, conducted by GlobeScan for the MSC, analysed 18,909 consumers across 22 markets in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the US.

MSC Program Director Anne Gabriel told News Corp consumers should be asking three questions when they are buying seafood.

"They should be asking 'would you be able to tell me where it's coming from?', and 'has it been sourced from a sustainable fishery?' and 'has it been certified by a third party?'," she said.

"This builds credibility and the different layers of trust consumers should have when buying seafood. Ask the questions and check the label."

She also said more education needs to occur so shoppers are aware of ecolabelling.

"The job of moving the needle can't be achieved just by government or industry or a supply chain of players, it has to be everyone coming together, playing their role," she said.

"We need supermarkets, airlines, pet food manufacturers, restaurants, food caterers and those who even make fish oil supplements to help educate consumers about sustainable seafood."

She said Australia ranks in the bottom four when it comes to awareness of third-party ecolabels on seafood products behind the UK, Germany and China, where sustainability is one of consumers' top priorities.

Ordering a seafood dish can also carry no labelling, making it hard for Australian consumers to discern what's sustainable on their plate. Picture: iStock
Ordering a seafood dish can also carry no labelling, making it hard for Australian consumers to discern what's sustainable on their plate. Picture: iStock

Coles' Head of Quality and Responsible Sourcing, James Whittaker, told News Corp that all Coles-branded seafood is responsibly sourced and carries either an MSC ecolabel or a label from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, (ASC), which also runs a global leading certification and labelling program.

"There is a strong desire to do the right thing here," Mr Whittaker said.

"We are not able to influence some of the big global brands with their labelling. They manage themselves, but we have used our TV commercials last year and this year, our magazine and Coles Radio to talk about our homebrand prawns and seafood being responsibly sourced.

"We also do a lot of training across team members so they are across it."

Woolworths Group's Head of Sustainability, Adrian Cullen, told News Corp they also wanted to do their part to help restore and improve fish stocks and create a sustainable and secure seafood supply.

"We are committed to sourcing our seafood from sources that are third-party certified or independently verified such as MSC and ASC and are working with all our suppliers to achieve this," he said.

The official MSC ecolabel shoppers can see on more than 400 products in Australia. Picture: MSC/Supplied
The official MSC ecolabel shoppers can see on more than 400 products in Australia. Picture: MSC/Supplied

SEAFOOD THAT CARRIES THE MSC ECOLABEL

 

MAJOR RETAILERS

Coles: 7 Coles fish counter products, 6 Coles brand canned products, 13 Coles brand frozen products

Woolworths: 10 Woolworths brand canned products, 15 Woolworths brand frozen products

ALDI: 14 ALDI brand frozen products, 44 ALDI brand canned products

IKEA: 4 IKEA brand chilled products, 2 IKEA brand frozen products, 1 IKEA brand preserved product

 

MAJOR BRANDS

John West: 69 canned products (tuna, mackerel)

Bird's Eye: 30 frozen products (primarily hoki, southern blue whiting)

S ealord: 35 frozen products (hoki, southern blue whiting)

Raptis: 24 frozen products (prawns)

Safcol: 10 canned products (salmon)

 

OTHER BRANDS

Goolwa PiPiCo pipis, Glacier 51 Toothfish, Skull Island Tiger Prawns, Jamie Oliver fish cakes & fish fingers, Yurrita anchovies & tuna.

 

Source: MSC