People Don’t Care if Their Fish Is Sustainable

Local, fair trade, and organic have become battle cries for a global sustainable-food movement. The fishing industry, too, has responded to this surge of interest in how the food we eat affects the Earth and its waterways by eco-labeling products; passing stricter laws against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and even applying blockchain technology—the approach behind bitcoin—to trace fish supply chains. But these fish-friendly initiatives are running into a wall: consumer apathy.

According to a new study by researchers at Vancouver Island University* and North Carolina’s Duke University, when people choose to buy fish, the factor that they care least about is its perceived sustainability. This is a troubling finding given that the modern fishing industry—and the future of wild-caught fish—is at risk, with a 2012 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report estimating that up to 85 percent of the world’s wild fish are either overharvested or already depleted…

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