New findings released by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) show growing concern among the public around the world about the state of the world’s oceans, accompanied by a rise in those saying their buying habits can make a difference to this threat.
The independent survey of attitudes to seafood and ocean health – carried out by GlobeScan in 23 countries and involving 25,000 people – is the largest of its kind in the world. It found that almost 90% of respondents were worried about the state of the oceans, with the Portuguese, South Koreans and French the most worried and the Chinese, Polish, Singaporean and South African the most optimistic.
Top of concerns about the ocean were pollution (65%), overfishing (44%), and climate change (37%). With over a third of the world’s fish stocks overfished and climate change changing marine ecosystems, the survey – released on the UN’s World Ocean Day – shows consumers are more aware than ever of the impact their choices have on the oceans.
Amongst the key findings, there has been a sharp increase (8%) from two years ago in seafood consumers who believe their choices can make a difference to the health of the oceans. Almost three-quarters (73%) of consumers surveyed believe that people should eat seafood from sustainable sources, up from 65% compared with 2 years ago.
China, Germany and Sweden led the rankings for countries where consumers said they had changed their diet for environmental reasons. Buying sustainable seafood is the most common action that seafood consumers globally say they have taken to protect the oceans (24%), with 18-34 year-olds globally much more likely than older consumers to have taken action to protect the oceans in the past year.
Globally, the top reasons for protecting the oceans were that healthy oceans are necessary for the future health of the planet, (63%), to prevent ocean wildlife from going extinct (60%) while 51% said they wanted their children and grandchildren to have healthy oceans.
Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of MSC, said:
“There is deep concern about the future of the oceans, but the clear message from this global survey is that more people than ever are recognizing that their choices can help change that. It is essential that we act now to safeguard the ocean’s biodiversity, and food supplies and the livelihoods that depend upon them. Consumers and markets are a powerful force for change, rewarding fishers who are fishing our oceans sustainably. However, given the scale of the challenge, it is essential that governments play their part, to ensure that fisheries around the world are managed sustainably.”
To coincide with World Ocean Day, the MSC has released a series of short films on sustainable fishing, showcasing the innovations undertaken by fisheries to help safeguard the ocean. These will be shown in 23 markets around the globe on World Ocean Day and beyond.”