Aussies confused about sustainable seafood

While most Australians will say they are environmentally aware and want to improve sustainability, new research has found it is not often a factor considered when purchasing decisions are made.

When consumers purchase goods in Australia they are almost always more concerned with taste and price, rather than sustainably sourced products.

Research commissioned by John West Australia and conducted by Lonergan Research in August 2012 found sustainability ranks low on the list of priorities for Australians purchasing canned seafood, with just 4 per cent saying it as the most important purchasing consideration.

That is the same level of consideration given to the size of the can, with 4 per cent also saying that is the main factor considered when purchasing seafood.

Taste was most important to the highest number of the 1 034 respondents, with 30 per cent saying they regard that factor over all others, while 25 per cent said taste topped the list as the most important considerations.

One of the main reasons consumers aren’t giving sustainable foods the recognition they deserve may be due to the lack of education around what the term means.

Because while the term ‘sustainable seafood’ is often used in advertising, marketing and reporting, the research found that just under a quarter of Australians actually understand what it means.

Despite this, when asked their opinion, 83 per cent of Australians believe it is important that tuna sold in Australia is caught in a sustainable manner, even though they rank it lower than other factors when making a purchasing decision.

Interestingly, men are 6 per cent more likely than women to know what the term ‘sustainable seafood’ means.

Almost 85 per cent said that unless it is labelled they have no idea which brands are sustainable and which are not and 60 per cent agreed they would avoid purchasing tuna if they knew it was caught in an unsustainable manner.

Four in five respondents believe labels about sustainability should be compulsory on seafood and almost 80 per cent believe that there should be incentives to reward companies who are doing the right thing and ensuring their tuna is caught sustainably.

Only 1 in 10 Australians surveyed can name at least one specific species of tuna they believe is at risk of being fished unsustainably, with the two species mentioned most frequently being Bluefin and Yellowfin.

Nearly 9 in 10 Australians do not know what other species (besides tuna) are being overfished or at risk of extinction due to the canned tuna industry.

How much do you know about sustainable seafood practises? Do we need better education on the subject?

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