One of the key messages from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight TV series was that people can eat fish sustainably, they should just shift to under-used species. Unfortunately, while there has been an increase in consumption of species like mackerel and pouting, the consumption of threatened species like cod remains steady.
As the New Economics Foundation comments:
“There is no evidence that encouraging people to be more adventurous with new species will ease the pressure on fish stocks.”
I’ve always been a bit sceptical of campaigns that are focused on consumer action rather than more fundamental changes in management and regulation. Are there any actual success stories? Either way, the rise in sustainable species and consumer awareness isn’t a bad thing, it just isn’t enough. The most consumer choice can do is give feedback to retailers and producers, encouraging them to produce commodities that meet perceived customer needs. But it’s a pretty weak feedback mechanism, with limited ways to direct change. I’ll try and investigate some better examples of how consumer action has been effective in the past.
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