Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Save your favorite seafood, FishVote08

Finally, a new way for seafood lovers to help save their favorite unsustainable seafood!

Do you feel torn when you're buying seafood? Do you want to do good, but still find it hard to turn away from the long list of tempting but unsustainable items?

Now there's another option, go to Ocean Conservancy's FishVote08 and join the effort to improve your favorite unsustainable seafood.

How does this new option work? FishVote 08 is a direct effort to improve fishing practices for desirable but unsustainable seafood. Starting with the winner, Ocean Conservancy will identify practical steps towards sustainability for unsustainable fisheries and rally seafood lovers to support this progress. Actions might include supporting new regulations, rewarding seafood businesses that promote sustainability, and building markets that reward innovative fishermen.

Why is direct engagement the best approach for improving your favorite unsustainable seafood? Such high demand seafoods are not likely to be improved if consumers "just say no" to unsustainable seafood.

The "just say no" approach that tells consumers not to buy unsustainable seafood is based on a critical but questionable assumption. Relying on "just say no" assumes that the invisible hand of the marketplace will induce fisheries to improve when customers reduce demand. There are several problems with "just say no" to unsustainable seafood.

1. Reduced demand is unlikely to matter for desirable seafood items, since demand already exceeds supply (that's WHY they're in trouble!).

2. Problem fisheries tend to get worse when prices go down as fishermen struggle to make a living. If seafood buyers reject unsustainable seafood, the unfortunate result may be worse fishing practices.

3. Seafood supply chains are not controlled by retail consumers or fishermen, so there is no way for seafood consumers to "send a message" to fishermen through purchasing practices.

4. There are few opportunities for fishermen to innovate for sustainability and be rewarded by consumers. Barriers include perverse incentives in fishery regulations and lack of market outlets for innovative fishermen.

5. Inadquate labeling and traceability make it difficult for consumers to know what they're buying.

Check out FishVote08 and lend your voice to a new sustainable seafood movement. Let's roll up our sleeves and work together to fix unsustainable fisheries, rather than simply walking away and hoping the marketplace will fix the problems. These days, it's hard to have faith in the ability of the invisible hand to do anyting but slap everyone around.

1 comment:

Foodieconomist said...

supporting sustainable seafood companies is essential, I think www.cleanfish.com
has got the right idea