How Millennials can play a role in saving our fish


Seafood and sunny South Africa go together like peas and carrots. However, these days that match is not made in heaven.  More than 80% of the world’s commercial fish species are fully exploited or unsustainable. Amanzi takes a closer look at why and how Millennials can mitigate further decline.

The current fish scenario in our Oceans

The World Bank reports that consumption has doubled in the past 30 years.  Not only are we eating and catching more fish, but the methods we use to catch them are often destructive, damaging the marine environment. Marine habitats, particularly coral reefs, have been permanently damaged by destructive fishing practices, such as commercial trawling.

fish west-coast-rock-lobster-season-

West Coast Rock Lobster

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are one tool for providing healthy habitats for fish to live and breed in, as well as a refuge for endangered species, such as turtles, marine mammals, and sharks. MPAs restrict fishing practices or exist as no-take zones that allow depleted fish populations to recover. Yet, only a small proportion of our ocean is formally protected in MPAs and the vast majority remains open to fishing.

According to SASSI developing a sustainable seafood industry requires more than sustainable fishing. It is also about addressing the other aspects of the supply chain – from the fisherman’s hook, via the seafood vendor, to your fork.

Sassi Fish Boat-to-plate-3

What SASSI does for our fish?

  1. Promoting voluntary compliance with the law (specifically, the South African Marine Living Resources Act) through education and awareness.
  2. Shifting consumer demand away from over-exploited marine species to more sustainable options.
  3. Creating awareness around marine conservation issues and inspiring consumers

For those torn by the decision as to whether you should indulge in salmon sushi on the SASSI orange list, it’s interesting to know that Soutit’sfrican rainbow trout is a perfect salmon sushi alternative. SASSI has created an excellent Alternatives List

What Millennials have to do with fish consumption

Nicola Jenkin, of Pinpoint Sustainability, was asked to examine millennial consumer behaviour on behalf of the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative of the World Wide Fund for Nature. Her research indicates that the situation may be mitigated by the consumers of the next generation, the millennials, born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s. Why – you may ask? Well, they are the world’s largest living generation and the most diverse. Based on this their purchasing patterns significantly influence current and future seafood consumption and in turn the health of our oceans.

Research shows that Millennials eat out regularly and can afford seafood. And of course, sushi is very in vogue. If they take action now, they could still be enjoying kingklip with a clear conscience when they celebrate their 80th birthdays in 2065! 

sushi fish

How to change Millennial ‘fish’ behaviour 

Education and awareness is an obvious route to take. However, it is well documented that knowledge and attitudes alone do not result in behaviour change. There are already a myriad initiatives and campaigns working to raise awareness and educate. These include the valuable work undertaken by SASSI, such as using celebrity chefs to
influence consumers and petitioning governments and large fishing companies. And of course, their well-known SASSI List which they have developed into an App. 

Jenkin maintains that it is necessary to understand the factors that determine the way people purchase food. Her research suggests more than 34 factors can contribute to why and how people purchase food. Some — such as availability, convenience, price and trust in a product — are more critical than others.

Fish boats

Actions for sustainable seafood could include ensuring that green-listed species alternatives are easily available, that they are just as tasty as their endangered counterparts and that they are just as convenient to prepare. No consumer will want to spend hours picking out little bones with tweezers just because that fish is more sustainable.

Theories of change suggest that most people need to think about something for a while before they make a change. A poster on a bathroom wall could trigger the process. After thinking about a problem, people decide and prepare to act. Consumers need to feel good about this and be rewarded for making the right choice. With assistance at a fish counter to make the right decision, they may return and make a good choice again.

eating fish out

This change in consumption, however, needs to be sustained. Social media can further reinforce the rewards for their choices. These messages could be around the money they are saving, the communities they are supporting or how they are positively impacting fish stocks. The results of the study indicated that there is power in Millennial consumer behaviour to affect the sustainability of our oceans. The challenge is to get them to go through the evolutionary process of change. Simply put to sit up, notice and change their patterns.


Original Article featured: https://www.businesslive.co.za/

Author: Reporter @ Amanzi

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