A new study from the Marine Stewardship Council has found that consumer attitudes are mixed when it comes to ordering seafood. The study covered more than 25,000 consumers in 22 countries and found that while the vast majority agreed that there was a need to protect fisheries (83 percent), often the desire to support ethical business was foiled by too high a price point.

“Consumers really do care about the oceans but with so much confusion it’s more important than ever to cut through the clutter and deliver an easy way for people to choose sustainable seafood,” said a spokesperson for the MSC. “With a rising consumer focus on price, it is important that consumers have a range of clearly labelled sustainable options at the right price point.”

Once again, it is a focus on provenance and clear story-telling which comes to the fore for diners. Half of New Zealand’s total seafood production is certified to the MSC’s sustainability standard and 70 percent of the deep-water catch is also certified to the same level.

“MSC’s vision of the world’s oceans teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations’ is relevant to and aligns with expectations of New Zealanders and is what we aim to deliver as Fisheries New Zealand,” said Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash.

Companies like Leigh Fisheries are adopting technology to help tell their sustainability story more effectively. Using a programme called fTrace, diners can find out when the fish was caught, how the fish was caught, on which boat the fish was caught and what nationality the boat is. Many manufacturers voluntarily provide more information in fTRACE than is legally required – for example about quality control. A restaurant which offers a clear narrative about its seafood sustainability is more likely to be able to sell seafood at a higher price point.