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12:00 AM 7th June 2024
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Half Of UK Shoppers Switch Diets Amid Growing Anxiety For State Of The Ocean

 
Image by Md. Sahadot Hossain from Pixabay
Image by Md. Sahadot Hossain from Pixabay
Nearly half of shoppers who are changing what they eat are doing so because of concerns about the environment according to a new survey by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), released ahead of the UN’s World Oceans Day on Saturday (8 June).

Consumers are more conscious than ever about how their food choices impact the planet. Researchers surveyed over 27,000 people across 23 countries – including 1378 in the UK - and asked them if their diets were changing. In the UK, 45% of consumers said it was down to environmental reasons, alongside health and price.

The biggest change was in red meat, like beef and lamb, with 35% of UK shoppers surveyed cutting their consumption over the past two years. 39% said they were eating more vegetables and 13% said they were eating more fish. Looking forward, 29% of UK consumers said they would eat more seafood in future if they knew it wasn't causing harm to the ocean.

“The results of the survey show a growing public concern about the state of our ocean.

Top of consumers’ environmental concerns was climate change (50% put this in their top three), but other major issues were pollution and waste damaging rivers and streams (43%), loss and destruction of forests and woodland (42%) and extreme weather events (38%).

Anxiety about the state of the world’s oceans among seafood consumers is on the rise, with 94% of them saying they were worried, up from 91% two years ago. Optimism about the possibility of saving the ocean from irreversible harm has plummeted. Just 34% said they believe in 20 years-time we will have saved the oceans from irreparable damage from humans, down from 50% two years ago.

Despite their gloomy outlook, greater awareness of conservation and recent extreme weather events, including record-breaking temperatures, can also be motivating, with 61% saying they feel an increased desire to protect the marine environment.

In terms of possible solutions, the survey showed the public has a good understanding of the role of sustainable fishing: 52% of UK seafood consumers said they associated it with ensuring that endangered or vulnerable species are better protected. In addition, 60% of UK respondents recognised that it includes maintaining healthy, thriving fish populations, both of which are key components of the MSC Fisheries Standard.

George Clark, MSC UK & Ireland Programme Director, said: 
“The results of the survey show a growing public concern about the state of our ocean. Protecting it, and the diversity of life within it is vital for the health of the planet. We need to re-double our collective efforts to tackle overfishing and the enormous threat it poses. Incentivising positive change, through recognising and rewarding sustainable fishers is vital for progress. By ensuring fishing practises are sustainable we can guarantee more life in the ocean as well as protecting a valuable food resource for this, and future generations.”


The findings of the research, commissioned by the MSC and carried out by GlobeScan, a global insight and advisory consultancy, are being released ahead of World Oceans Day, designated 8 June by the United Nations in 2008 to raise awareness of the impact of human actions on the ocean, and to bring people together to improve the sustainable management of the world's oceans.

Caroline Holme, Executive Director at GlobeScan, said:
“These results mirror our broader findings in our annual healthy and sustainable living study and the public’s perception of the challenges that the world faces. Even amid a cost-of-living crisis, environmental issues are of major concern to consumers.”


MSC certified fisheries have made more than 400 fishing practice improvements in the last three years, including to protect endangered marine species and vulnerable habitats.

Fishers certified to MSC’s global, science-based fisheries standard, are required to manage fish stocks sustainably and minimize impacts on the wider marine environment.

The ocean covers over 70% of the planet and produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen. It is home to most of earth’s biodiversity and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world.