Canadian Manufacturing

1 in 3 Canadians fear their favourite fish won’t be available in 20 years

A new survey reveals the majority of Canadians see sustainable seafood as a way to protect the ocean and safeguard fish and seafood stocks

June 8, 2020  by CM Staff

PHOTO: Fish market/Flightlog via Flickr

TORONTO – According to a recent survey for the Marine Stewardship Council, the health of the ocean is driving a wave of concern among Canadian consumers and it is influencing their buying habits.

The survey, conducted by independent insights consultancy, GlobeScan, reveals that 56% of Canadian seafood shoppers have already made changes to the way they choose to buy seafood in the last year in order to protect fish and seafood in the ocean.

“Canadians are aware of the number of stressors that impact the ocean like overfishing, ocean pollution and climate change,” said Brian Perkins, regional director Americas at the Marine Stewardship Council, in a prepared statement. “This survey shows they want to make a meaningful difference by supporting fish and seafood products that are sustainably sourced.”

The ways that concerned consumers are choosing to ‘vote with their forks’ include switching to brands or products that help protect the ocean or fish (22%), buying different seafood species (16%) and changing where they buy seafood (13%). About 82% of Canadians are willing to take further action with 74% of Canadians calling on grocery stores to remove all unsustainable fish and seafood products from their shelves.

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What may be fuelling this consumer activism is the worry held by nearly 1 in 3 (31%) Canadians that their favourite fish like salmon (31%), shrimp/prawns (15%), lobster(13%), tuna (9%), and cod (7%) will not be available to eat in the next 20 years. The survey also shows a higher proportion of 18-24 year olds (42%) fear their favourite fish may be off the menu by 2040 compared to people 55 and older (25%).

Six in 10 (62%) respondents are aware that choosing sustainable seafood does make a difference to the health of the ocean and that to save the ocean, the fish and seafood we eat should be from sustainable sources only (61%). Despite this, only 26% of Canadian seafood consumers notice ecolabels—such as the MSC blue fish label—while grocery shopping which is significantly less than the global average (41%).

Oceans contain up to 80% of life on earth 1, with seafood providing an important source of protein to more than 3 billion people across the world However, a third of fisheries around the world have been fished beyond sustainable limits, and a further 60% are fished to their maximum capacity.