salmon aquaculture

Pollution, overfishing and trust key concerns of seafood consumers

B.C. salmon farmers lead the way in third party certifications as a new survey shows seafood consumers globally want sustainability claims independently verified.

By Fabian Dawson


A comprehensive study into seafood consumers globally found close to three-quarters of those surveyed want sustainability claims in supermarkets independently verified.

The survey of more than 25,000 consumers in 22 countries, which was commissioned by The Marine Stewardship Council, (MSC) also found that 83% of seafood consumers globally agree that we need to protect seafood for future generations.

Pollution and overfishing are consistently the most concerning ocean issues for seafood consumers in the 22 countries surveyed.

In British Columbia, every salmon farm holds at least one third party certification or recommendation. Certification vary by company, but most include stringent third-party audits and public disclosure of audit findings.

For instance, more than 73% of Cermaq Canada’s production farms are certified to Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) salmon standard.

This standard was developed with the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and is an independent, third party organization which receives no money from the certification process.

Last April, Marine Harvest Canada’s Alexander Inlet farm was the company’s 17th farm site to be ASC certified.

Marine Harvest said that with 17 active certifications now, it hopes to have 24 more certified by the end of 2018, and will certify a total of about 30, depending on production schedules, by 2020 to meet its global commitment.

In addition to seeking ASC certification, The BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) said that all its members have committed to the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI), launched in August 2013.

This initiative brings salmon aquaculture companies around the globe together to work to minimize the industry’s environmental footprint and continue to improve social contributions.

Research agency GlobeScan, which did the survey for MSC, also found men were more motivated by price of seafood while women see sustainability as more important.

However, consumers in some countries (Germany, Austria, China, Spain, UK, Switzerland, Italy and Sweden) still place sustainability above price, regardless of their age or gender.

A large proportion, 72% of seafood consumers, agree that in order to save the oceans we need to consume seafood from sustainable sources and an increasing number believe that people should be prepared to switch to another type of fish if it is more sustainable (70% in 2018, up from 68% in 2016).

“This survey shows that consumers really do care about the oceans, but with so much confusion about how consumers can help, it’s more important than ever to cut through the clutter and deliver an easy way for people to choose sustainable seafood, said Richard Stobart, Head of Marketing for the Marine Stewardship Council.

“With a rising consumer focus on price, and the finding that worldwide more than half of consumer’s report eating seafood weekly, it is critically important that they have a range of clearly labelled sustainable options at the right price point.

We’re pleased to see that trust in the blue MSC label remains very high and our focus continues to be to drive understanding of the label,” said Stobart.

Speaking about the research, Associate Director at GlobeScan, Abbie Curtis said that in a world of increasing consumer pessimism, people are looking for messages of hope and reassurance.

“We are happy to see that the theme of protecting seafood for future generations resonates strongly with consumers in all 22 countries surveyed,” he said

“We’re also seeing that, in a low trust environment, consumers are increasingly looking to third parties to verify sustainability claims,” said Curtis.

If you have a question about the sustainability claims by BC salmon farmers get your answers





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