68% of consumers in Ireland are conscious of ecolabels on fish and seafood

68% of consumers in Ireland are conscious of ecolabels on fish and seafood

Survey shows that 68% of consumers in Ireland are conscious of ecolabels on fish and seafood, as well as being conscious of price

in Ireland look for an ecolabel when shopping, according to a new survey conducted by YouGov for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and released ahead of World Oceans Day on June 8.

The survey, of more than 2000 consumers in Ireland, who were questioned in April 2024, found that 68% of consumers in Ireland look for eco-labelled products, such as those certified by the MSC, when shopping for fish and eating at restaurants. This is alongside concerns about rising costs: 47% of respondents also said that the price of fish is important to them when purchasing seafood, making it the second biggest concern for consumers this year, just after freshness at 52%, having risen from the fifth most important in 2021, correlating with the cost-of-living crisis.

The survey also found that 49% of respondents eat seafood at least once a week and that most buy their products from supermarkets rather than independents and fishmongers. Of those surveyed, 83% agreed that supermarket claims are reinforced by independent organisations. This included those who do and don’t consume seafood – showing an overall awareness of the importance of organisations such as the MSC.

When asked about general perspectives of ocean sustainability, a majority agreed that factors such as consuming only from sustainable sources (81%), switching to different species to support sustainability (75%), and the traceability of fish consumed (82%) are important. Crucially, nearly three-quarters (72%) recognise that the choices they make regarding buying fish and seafood can make a difference to the health of the oceans.

The survey included respondents who don’t buy or eat fish, showing an increased general awareness amongst Irish consumers of the effects of climate change on the ocean (37% up from 28% in 2021), and the impact of rising sea levels (an increase from 13% to 24% since 2021).

Seth McCurry, Senior Commercial Manager for MSC UK & Ireland, said: “This research confirms that there is increasing public concern around ocean health. There are steps we and the consumer can take to protect biodiversity, and it is evident that the majority are aware of those. Amidst all the global environmental concerns such as rising sea levels and climate change, it is more important than ever that we continue to support sustainable fishing practices, work together to tackle over-fishing and make sure that we are making conscious choices to protect such a valuable food source.

“And for environmentally-conscious shoppers, the good news is there are over 350 different MSC labelled fish and seafood products available in Ireland, with Tesco, Aldi and Lidl all offering a wide range to choose from across different product formats and price ranges That includes everything from cod, haddock and salmon, to shellfish like coldwater prawns and Irish mussels.”

These findings of MSC’s consumer research in Ireland are being released ahead of World Oceans Day on 8th June, designated in 2008 by the United Nations 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. 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.

MSC estimates that an extra 16 million tonnes of wild seafood could be harvested each year if global fisheries were better managed. This would meet the protein needs of 72 million people, while also significantly reducing iron and vitamin deficiencies.